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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Chicken, Lentil and Barley Soup

Today is day 16 of Soup Month 2013 and we are over half way through this month of soups and stews.  To continue on, we have a hearty bowl of soup that delivers lots of protein and healthy fiber.  I love simple vegetable soup and this Chicken, Lentil and Barley Soup just delicious.  Packed with lots of complex carbs and healthy veggies and it's so easy to make, you can have it on the table, ready to eat in just about an hour.  It also makes great leftovers.

One benefit of cooking with red lentils is the shorter cooking time.  When cooking with green lentils you are looking at about 45 - 60 minutes of cooking time, and the lentils will still have a firm texture, even after this much cooking time. Red lentils, however, will cook down to a mushy-type consistency in about 20 - 30 minutes.  And mushy is a good thing in this case.  If you have kids that are just a little picky (or a lot picky, in some cases), adding a handful of red lentils to a stew or soup will thicken the stock as the lentils dissolve and add lots of protein and fiber, without the kids asking what those "little things" are in their soup. (Yes, my picky eater always asks this question...sigh.  But she did like this soup.) 

If you prefer a vegetarian soup, just substitute vegetable broth for the chicken broth and leave out the chicken.  Enjoy!!

1/2 cup  Red lentils
1 small  Onion, chopped
1/2  Red or Orange Sweet Pepper, chopped
2 tsp  Minced Garlic
2 TB  Butter
5 cups  Chicken Broth  (or vegetable broth)
1/2 tsp  Dried Basil
1/4 tsp  Dried Oregano
1 tsp  Fresh Rosemary
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
2 cups  Chopped Pre-Cooked Chicken or Turkey
2 or 3  Carrots, peeled and sliced
1/2 cup  Quick Cooking Barley, uncooked
14-1/2 oz can  Diced Tomatoes

In a medium soup pot, melt the butter and sauté the onions, peppers, and garlic until just softened.

Add the chicken broth, basil, oregano, rosemary, pepper, and salt to the pot and stir.  Rinse and drain the lentils and add them to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and simmer, covered for 15 minutes.

Add the chicken, carrots and barley to the pot, stir and cover the pot and simmer for 10 minutes, then add the tomatoes and cook for 10 minutes longer or until the carrots are tender.  Makes 6 servings.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Broccoli and Corn Chowder

For day 15 of Soup Month 2013 we have a super easy to make Broccoli and Corn Chowder.  This really isn't a fancy soup, just a good hearty bowl of soup that will taste great at the end of a cold winter day.

This recipe only requires a handful of ingredients, and most of them you probably have on hand.  There are also lots of possible variations for this soup.  If you would like to make this a more meaty soup, you just add some leftover cubed ham or chopped chicken during the last 10 minutes of cooking time.  The soup also tastes great with a generous sprinkle of grated pepper jack cheese or a dash of Sriracha sauce.  Enjoy!!

1/2 lb  Thick Cut Bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 medium  Onion, finely chopped
1/4 cup  Flour
24 oz  Chicken Broth
3 large  Baking Potatoes, peeled and diced
1 lb  Fresh Broccoli, cut into small florets
1 cup  Frozen Corn
1/2 tsp  Dried Thyme
1 cup  Half and Half
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

In a medium soup pot, cook bacon over medium-low heat until just crisp, then use a slotted spoon to transfer the bacon to a paper towel lined plate.  Set aside.

Add the onion to the pot and sauté over medium heat until softened, about 5 minutes.  Add flour to the onion, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Add the broth and potatoes to the pot and bring mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the broccoli to the pot and simmer for 10 - 12 minutes longer, or until the vegetables are tender.

Add the corn, thyme, half and half, salt and pepper to the soup, stir and cook 5 minutes longer.  Serve in wide soup bowls with a sprinkle of crumbled bacon.  Serves about 5.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Savory Beef and Ale Cobbler

For day 14 of Soup Month 2013 we made a dish that I've wanted to try for a long time, a Savory Beef and Ale Cobbler.  No, this cobbler doesn't have apples or peaches in it, but instead offers a beef stew-like filling and is topped with chive and onion biscuits. 

You basically take an inexpensive piece of beef, add carrots, onions and some mushrooms, then add a bit of beef stock and a bottle of hearty ale.  Pop this in the oven for a long, slow-cooking afternoon, and low and behold, you have a meal fit for a king.  Juicy pieces of beef, tender enough to be cut with a spoon, surrounded by a rich gravy.  The only thing that makes this better are the delicate biscuits on top. So yummy!

My husband had quite a debate at work about this dish. It seems many people had never heard of a savory cobbler, declaring that cobblers are fruit based with sugary toppings and sweet filling.  Well, I hate to break the news to them, but savory cobblers are not a new thing, and they have been popular in England for centuries.  The British prepare a cobbler in the same manner Americans prepare casseroles.  Any type of meat can be used such as lamb or beef, assorted vegetables are tossed in, and the biscuit topping is frequently an old-fashioned scone recipe with herbs and cheese.

For the biscuits on top of this cobbler I used some fresh chives that are still going strong in my garden and a bit of onion powder.  The biscuits browned up nicely and soaked up just a bit of gravy as they were perched on top of the cobbler, and they added a nice texture to the dish.

This meal does take some time to prepare, so it's a great dish to make on the weekend when you can let it cook low and slow and then enjoy the tasty results with a glass of dry red wine.  Enjoy!!

1/3 cup  Flour
1-1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1-1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
2 lb  Beef Chuck, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 TB  Olive Oil, divided
1 medium  Onion, sliced
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1  Red or Orange Bell Pepper, sliced into 1-inch pieces
6  Carrots, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
6 oz  Mushrooms, cleaned and quartered (button, Portobello or other firm mushrooms will work)
1  bottle Goose Island India Pale Ale (or your favorite IPA)
3 cups  Beef Stock
3  Bay Leaves
1 tsp  Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

For the biscuit topping
1-1/4 cups  Flour
2 tsp  Baking Powder
3 TB  Butter
5 - 6 TB  Milk
1 TB  Minced Fresh Chives (or other herbs)
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp  Onion Powder

In a small bowl combine the flour, salt and pepper.  Sprinkle 3 or 4 tablespoons of this mixture over the beef until the meat is evenly coated.  Reserve the extra flour mixture and set aside.

Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil in a large ovenproof pot over medium-high heat.  Add the beef to the pan and cook, stirring, until the meat is seared on all sides.  Use a slotted spoon to transfer the beef to a platter and set aside.

Add 2 tablespoons of olive oil to the same pan, then add the onion and garlic and cook for 2 minutes over medium heat.  Add the peppers and mushrooms, stir and cook for 3 minutes longer.

Sprinkle the remaining flour mixture over the vegetables and stir to coat.  Add the beer to the pan and stir gently to loosen any browned bits from the bottom of the pan.  Add the stock, bay leaves, salt and pepper to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce the heat and cook for about 8 to 10 minutes until the gravy thickens slightly.  Return the beef to the pan, cover the pot and place the pan in the oven at 325 degrees to slow roast for 1 hour.

(After the cobbler has cooked for an hour is when you will add the biscuits to the top of the meat and vegetable mixture, so you will want to have the biscuits ready ahead of time.)

In a medium bowl combine the flour and baking powder, then add the butter in thin slices.  Use a fork to blend in the butter until the mixture is crumbly.  Add the remaining ingredients, and stir with a fork until you have a smooth dough. (You may need just a bit more milk, just add 1 teaspoon at a time until the dough is smooth.)

Place the dough on a lightly floured board, roll it our to about 1/2-inch thick and cut out circles of dough using a cookie cutter.

Remove the pot from the oven, remove and discard the bay leaves and add the dough circles on top of the cobbler.  Return the pot to the oven uncovered and bake for 30 minutes or until the biscuits are golden and flaky.  Serves about 6.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Creamy Stuffed Mushroom Soup

For day 13 of Soup Month 2013 we have a slightly unconventional soup, that I'm sure you won't see on any restaurant menu.  This soup combines the silky goodness of creamy mushroom and onion soup with one of my favorite classic appetizers, the Crab Stuffed Mushroom.  If you're a fan of mushrooms, you're going to love this recipe.

This turned out to be a delicious soup and it would be wonderful served alongside a grilled New York Strip Steak. Although a bit whimsical, this soup has a lot going for it.  After sautéing onions and Portobello mushrooms, a bit of dry red wine is added and allowed to reduce.  Beef broth is added, then the mixture is pureed almost smooth, with a few tiny bits if mushroom still visible.  A touch of cream tops off the soup to thicken it slightly and add a layer of richness.

To garnish this soup we added a couple of Crab and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms, which can be served on the side, but taste wonderful served in the soup.  The mushroom caps are baked until the filling is hot and the cheese on top is melted and golden, which adds a roasted mushroom flavor to the soup.  Slicing through the cheesy mushroom, then scooping up a little soup with each bite is an amazing experience.  If you prefer not to make the stuffed mushrooms, the soup is delicious on its own, or you could quickly sauté a few sliced mushrooms and add a spoonful to the center of each bowl.  Enjoy!!

1 TB  Butter
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 large  Onion, sliced
8 oz  Portobello Mushrooms, cleaned and sliced
2 tsp  Minced Garlic
1/4 cup  Dry Red Wine
24 oz  Beef Broth
8 - 10 large  Stuffed Mushroom Caps (click here for recipe)

In a medium soup pot, melt the butter and olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add the onions and sauté 3 minutes, then add the mushrooms and cook until the vegetable are very tender, about 8 minutes.  Add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Add the red wine to the pot and stir, cooking for about 5 minutes until the wine reduces by half.  Add the beef broth to the pot, reduce heat to medium and simmer for 15 minutes.

Remove the pot from the stove and use an immersion blender to carefully puree the soup until smooth.  Return the soup to medium heat and add the cream, stirring until the soup thickens slightly.

Ladle the soup into bowls and top with 2 or 3 Stuffed Mushrooms and serve.

Crab and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms

Crab and Cheese Stuffed Mushrooms make a great party appetizer.  These are easy to make and, if you're serving them for a cocktail party, you can prepare them in advance using multiple trays and cook them one tray at a time during the party so the mushrooms will be warm and cheesy when served.  These are also great when added as a topping for Creamy Stuffed Mushroom Soup.

The filling is a simply mixture of shredded imitation crab meat, grated cheddar cheese, a little ricotta cheese and a few spices.  When making these stuffed mushrooms, try to find the largest mushroom caps possible, about 1-1/2 to 2 inches in diameter.  This will allow you to stuff a generous amount of filling into each cap.  If you can't find these on the shelf at your local market, ask someone in the produce department if they have any larger mushrooms.  These are sometimes available in limited quantities, but you have to ask.

2 oz  Imitation Crab Meat, shredded and finely chopped
4 TB  Ricotta Cheese, low-fat or regular
3 TB  Grated Cheddar Cheese
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Fresh Chopped Chives
1/4 tsp  Garlic Powder
Pinch of Ground Black Pepper
8 - 10 Large Mushroom Caps, (white or Portobello mushrooms work great) stems removed and inside lightly scooped out

Combine the crab, cheeses, salt, chives garlic powder and pepper in a medium bowl.  Stir to combine to ensure all of the mixture is moistened with the ricotta.

Using a small spoon, scoop the crab and cheese mixture into the mushroom caps, pressing the mixture into the cavity of each mushroom.  Place the filled mushrooms into a foil-lined pan and top each mushroom with a little extra grated cheddar cheese, pressing the cheese down onto the caps.

Bake the mushrooms for 8 - 10 minutes in a 400 degree oven, or until golden.  If desired, turn the oven to BROIL for 2 to 3 minutes at the end of the cooking time so the mushrooms have a more browned top.  Serve immediately.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Chicken Enchilada Soup

For day 12 of Soup Month 2013, we have a mild, but flavorful Chicken Enchilada Soup.  If you're familiar with Mexican foods, you'll know an enchilada is a popular Mexican dish, made by filling a corn tortilla with a variety of meat, cheese and vegetables, then rolling up the tortilla, and covering the rolls with a chili pepper sauce.  Although a very simple concept, there are a million ways to make and serve enchiladas, and for this dish we turned this Mexican favorite into a soup. 

This soup is easy to make and is a great way to use up leftover cooked chicken.  One ingredient you may not be familiar with is masa harina, which is a type of corn flour that's used to make tortillas.  (You can also use this flour to make Crispy Shrimp Cakes with Lime Salsa.)  The flour is used to give the soup its corn flavor, and it also thickens the soup to a nice creamy consistency.  Masa harina flour is available at most markets in the baking section, and is very inexpensive.

Chicken Enchilada Soup is more on the mild side, so if your kids like tacos and burritos, they will love this soup.  If you like your soup a bit more spicy, just increase the dry spices a bit or, instead of 2 cans of green chilies, substitute one of the cans with a can of diced jalapeno peppers.

We served the Enchilada Soup with cheese quesadillas and some cold Corona beers.

1 TB  Olive Oil
1 small  Onion, finely chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
4 cups  Chicken Broth
2  8-oz cans  Rotel Original Sauce
2  4-oz can  Diced Green Chilies
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 tsp  Chili Powder
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Cumin
1/2 tsp  Spanish Paprika
1/2 to 1 tsp  Crushed Red Pepper Flakes (for extra heat use 1 teaspoon)
2-1/2 cups  Water
1 cup  Masa Harina Flour
2 to 3 cups  Cooked Chicken, shredded
Shredded Pepper Jack Cheese or Monterey Jack Cheese for Garnish

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the onion and sauté 3 minutes, then add the garlic and cook 1 minute longer.

Add the chicken broth, Rotel sauce, green chilies, salt, pepper, chili powder, garlic powder, cumin and paprika to the pot and stir, and cook for 5 minutes over medium heat.

In a medium bowl combine the water and masa harina, using a whisk to gets all of the lumps out.  Pour this mixture into the soup and stir.  Cook for about 30 minutes or until the soup has reached the desired thickness.  (If the soup is a little too thick, add 1/4 cup water and stir.)

Add the chicken to the soup and cook for 5 minutes, or until the chicken is heated through.  Ladle into soup bowl and garnish with shredded jalapeno pepper jack cheese.  Serve cheese quesadillas on the side and Enjoy!!

Friday, October 11, 2013

Creamy Crock Pot Potato and Ham Soup

For day 11 of Soup Month 2013, we pulled out the crock pot to make this Creamy Potato and Ham Soup.  There's just something so warm and comforting about potato soup.  The texture and creaminess of the soup just makes you relax and say Mmmmm while you enjoy every bite.  As a bonus, having all of the cooking done in a crock pot makes dinner even more enjoyable.

The ham is center stage in this soup adding a great layer of flavor and texture.  Before being added to the crock pot, the ham is lightly browned in a skillet with onion and a touch of butter to give each piece a lightly glazed flavor.

The potatoes and onions are shredded before being added to the crock pot, which allows them to gradually dissolve into the soup as they cook down.  The end result is a creamy potato texture, but with little bits of potato still visible in the soup.  Although you could puree the soup for a completely smooth consistency, I really enjoyed the little potato bits along with the ham.

Fresh spinach adds a little extra color and nutrients and creamy low-fat ricotta cheese adds a rich flavor without making the soup too heavy.  A sprinkle of fresh chives on top is all this soup needs before serving.  Enjoy!!

1 lb  Ham, diced
2 TB  Butter
1 medium  Onion, very thinly sliced
5 medium  Russet Potatoes, finely shredded (a food processor works great)
32 oz  Chicken Broth
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/8 tsp  White Pepper
2 cups  Fresh Spinach, washed and stems removed
1/2 cup  Half and Half
8 oz  Low Fat Ricotta Cheese
Minced Chives for Garnish

In a medium skillet, over medium-high heat, add the ham and butter, and sauté for 4 minutes or until the edges begin to brown.  Add the onions to the skillet and sauté until tender, about 5 minutes.  Transfer the mixture to a crock pot.

Add the shredded potatoes, broth, salt and white pepper to the crock, cover and heat on HIGH for 5 hours or LOW for 7 hours.  Stir once halfway through the cooking time to break up the potatoes.

About 30 minutes before the soup is finished, add the spinach to the pot and stir.  Cook for 15 minutes, then add the half and half and ricotta to the pot.  Stir until the cheese is fully blended into the soup, cover and cook for the final 15 minutes.  Serve in soup bowls with a sprinkle of fresh chives.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Garlic Egg Drop Soup with Spinach

For our 10th day of Soup Month 2013 we prepared a light and easy to make, Garlic Egg Drop Soup with Spinach.  This meat-free soup is full of bold garlic flavor and it would be delicious served as a first course with baked chicken or served with Shrimp Egg Rolls, and would even taste great served with a simple salad. 

This is a wonderful old fashioned Italian soup that has several variations.  Some people like to add shredded leftover chicken or sausage to the soup, while others prefer the clear, chicken infused broth.  And some people choose to add the Parmesan cheese only as a garnish and not in the soup pot.  Either way, this mild soup makes a quick and healthy dinner that you can have ready in about 20 minutes.

If you have the extra time, homemade stock gives this soup a deep, rich flavor.  Just boil a few chicken quarters or a whole chicken, and save the stock to use for this soup and you have an extra meal almost ready to go.   Enjoy!!

1 cup  Ditalini Pasta, or other small pasta
6 cups  Chicken Stock, homemade or packaged
5 cloves  Garlic, sliced
5 oz  Fresh Spinach, washed and stems removed
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
4  Eggs, beaten
1/3 cup  Grated Parmesan Cheese, plus more for garnish

In a small saucepan, cook the pasta in salted water until al dente.

In a medium soup pot, bring the stock and garlic to a simmer and cook 3 minutes.  Add the pasta and fresh spinach and cook over medium heat until the spinach is wilted, about 5 minutes.  Add the salt and pepper and adjust to taste.

Slowly drizzle the eggs into the hot soup, stirring to create long strips of egg and cooking for 2 minutes.  Add the Parmesan cheese and stir.  Remove the soup from the heat and ladle soup into bowls, topping each bowl with a sprinkle of more grated Parmesan cheese.  Serve with Shrimp Egg Rolls for a quick and easy meal.  Makes 6 - 8 servings.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Asian Chicken Noodle Soup

For day 9 of Soup Month 2013 we made a delicate Asian version of Chicken Noodle Soup.  This soup can be prepared in less than an hour, it's a great way to use up leftover chicken and tastes great with Shrimp Egg Rolls.

This soup begins with a light sesame-infused stock, cooked chicken and a generous amount of mushrooms, sugar snap peas and green onions.  Other vegetables such as broccoli, red pepper, or carrots would also work well in this broth, and you could even replace the chicken with tofu, if you prefer, so the possibilities are endless.

We served the soup over a ladle of whole wheat angel hair pasta that worked really well with the broth.  The combination of sesame oil, mushrooms and pasta produced a nice earthly flavor.

Although my daughter and I loved the mild broth, my husband chose to add a squirt of Sriracha sauce to his soup and even a sprinkle of red pepper flakes can be used for a little extra amount of heat.  We served this soup with homemade Shrimp Egg RollsEnjoy!!

5 oz  Uncooked Angel Hair Pasta
4 tsp  Canola Oil, divided
1 cup  Onion, chopped
2 TB  Minced Garlic, divided
2 TB  Minced Garlic, divided
1/2 tsp  Red Pepper Flakes
4 cups  Chicken Stock
1 cup  Water
2 tsp  Sesame Oil
2 cups  Cooked Chicken, dark or white meat
8 oz  Mushrooms, cleaned and quartered
1 TB  Soy Sauce
1 tsp  Sugar
1 cup  Sugar Snap Peas, cut into 1-inch pieces
3  Green Onions, cut into 1-inch pieces
Sriracha Sauce or Red Pepper Flakes for Garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions, and keep warm.

To make the stock:  Heat a large saucepan over medium heat.  Add 2 teaspoons canola oil then the onion, 1 tablespoon ginger, 1 tablespoon garlic and red pepper flakes, stir and cook 4 minutes.

Add the chicken stock and water and bring to a boil.  Reduce heat to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes.

Pour the stock through fine mesh strainer and into a bowl; discard solids.  Return the stock to the pan and keep warm.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, add the sesame oil and heat 1 minute.  Add the cooked chicken and mushrooms to the pan and sauté for 5 minutes, stirring.  Add 1 tablespoon ginger and 1 tablespoon garlic and cook for 3 minutes.

Pour the chicken and mushroom mixture into the stock, then add the soy sauce, sugar, snap peas and green onions.  Reduce heat to a low simmer for 5 minutes, then remove the pot from the heat.

Divide pasta evenly between 4 soup bowls and ladle the soup over the pasta.  Garnish with red pepper flakes and a dash of Sriracha sauce for extra heat.  Serves 4.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Andouille Sausage and Tortellini Soup

For day 8 of Soup Month 2013, we have a super fast, super easy soup that you can have ready for dinner in just about 30 minutes.  Even better it's a whole meal in one pot.

This soup uses dry pasta and prepared sausage, and we added a few cups of fresh spinach and, for a boost of color and lots of nutrition, a jar of flame roasted red peppers.  The peppers add a delicious smoky flavor to the soup, but they're not spicy, so your kids will love them.

The Andouille sausage adds a bit of spice to the soup, and a touch of half and half finishes the creamy broth.  (If you prefer a mild sausage you could substitute kielbasa or smoked sausage, either would work fine.)  Top each bowl with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese, add some crunchy garlic bread on the side and you're ready for dinner.  Enjoy!!

1 pkg  Johnsonville Andouille Sausage, cut into 1/2-inch slices
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 14-oz jar  Vigo Roasted Red Peppers, drained and diced
5 cups  Chicken Broth
3 cups  Fresh Spinach, washed and stems removed
12 oz pkg  Dry Tortellini, any flavor (we used spinach and cheese)
3/4 cup  Half and Half
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper, or more to taste

In a medium soup pot, cook the sausage over medium-high heat for 5 minutes, or until it begins to brown on the edges.  Add the garlic, stir, and cook for 2 minutes.  Add the peppers, stir and cook for 2 minutes longer.

Add the broth to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook for 5 minutes.  Add the spinach, stirring and pushing the spinach down into the broth, and cook 5 minutes longer.  Add the half and half and pepper to the soup, stir, and taste test, adding more pepper if desired.

Ladle into soup bowls and serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese.

Monday, October 7, 2013

Catfish Corn Chowder

For day 7 of Soup Month 2013 we made a creamy Catfish and Corn Chowder that gets just a hint of background spice from creole seasoning.  This soup is not overly spicy, so kids will enjoy it, but the adults can always add a few drops of Tabasco sauce if they would like a little additional heat.

Starting with a blend of onions, celery, orange bell pepper, and red potatoes, the soup gets its creamy consistency from the corn and milk that are pureed together.  This allows the corn flavor to infuse into the soup and adds a little additional sweetness to the catfish.  We also added some small shrimp and a can of chopped clams to the soup to round out the seafood flavors.

This soup is easy to prepare and can be ready to serve in about 45 minutes and tastes great served with a few baked clam shells on the side.

1-1/2 lbs  Catfish, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 tsp  Creole or Cajun Seasoning
1/4 lb  Bacon, chopped
1 medium  Onion, finely chopped
1 stalk  Celery, finely chopped
1/2  Orange or Red Pepper, chopped
1/2  Green Pepper, chopped
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper, or more to taste
1/4 tsp  Cayenne Pepper
1 TB  Minced Garlic
6  Red Potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch dice
3 cups  Chicken Stock
1 cup  Corn Kernels
1-1/2 cups  Half and Half
1 can  Chopped Clams, with the juice
1/2 lb  Cooked Salad Shrimp

Season the catfish with the creole seasoning and set aside.

In a medium soup pot, cook the bacon over medium-high heat until just crisp, about 5 minutes.  Add the onion, celery, peppers, salt, pepper and cayenne pepper to the pot and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes.

Add the garlic, and cook, stirring, for 1 minute, then add the potatoes and stock and simmer for 5 minutes longer.

In a small bowl, combine the corn and half and half, then use a stick blender to puree the mixture.  Add the corn mixture to the pot and bring to a low boil. 

Add the clams and shrimp to the pot, stir, then add the catfish pieces to the soup, nestling them into the top of the chowder.  Simmer for about 10 - 15 minutes, or until the fish flakes easily with a fork.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Four Pepper Chili

For day 6 of Soup Month 2013, we made a delicious and spicy Four Pepper Chili, and it's just in time for football season!

This chili is packed with fresh flavors and includes green pepper, red pepper, poblano and jalapeno peppers.  I wanted this chili to have a little heat, but I don't really care for chili that has an overpowering amount of heat.  If it's too spicy to enjoy, that really defeats the purpose of a hearty chili.  In order to get that perfect balance of heat, I wanted to include corn, but I didn't want the pieces in the chili, so I decided to make the corn invisible.  The corn was pureed with beef stock and added to the chili to give a unique background flavor and it worked great.  Just enough heat, just enough sweet, and all of those flavors just pop!  As a bonus, the corn also helped thicken the chili.

A pot full of chili is great to serve guests, and is especially fitting for sports parties.  This chili can easily be transferred to a crock pot and kept warm during your party.  Provide an assortment of toppings, such as grated cheese, chopped onions, sour cream, crackers and corn chips, so each guest can prepare their own meal. Enjoy!!

1-1/2 lbs  Ground Round Beef
3/4 lb  Ground Pork
1 medium  Onion, finely chopped
1/2  Green Pepper, finely chopped
1/2  Red Pepper, finely chopped
1  Poblano Pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
1  Jalapeno Pepper, seeds removed and finely chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1  14 oz can  Black Beans, drained and rinsed
1  14 oz can  Del Monte Diced Tomatoes - Zesty Chili Style
1  8 oz can  Rotel Zesty Tomato and Green Chili Sauce
3 TB  Roasted Garlic Tomato Paste
1 cup  Frozen Corn
1-1/3 cups  Beef Broth
2 tsp  Chili Powder
2 tsp  Cumin
2 tsp  Kosher Salt, or more to taste
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper, or more to taste

In a large soup pot, brown the beef and pork with the onions, peppers, and garlic. When meat is browned, drain off as much grease as possible.

In a medium bowl, combine the corn and beef stock and puree with a stick blender until smooth.  Add this mixture and all remaining ingredients to the pot and stir to combine. 

Bring the chili to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 1 hour, stirring occasionally.

Serve alone or with pasta and your choice of toppings such as grated cheddar, sour cream, chopped onion, or crushed crackers or corn chips.  Serves about 8 - 10.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Ricotta Dumplings

For day 5 of Soup Month 2013, we made a silky smooth Roasted Red Pepper Soup, seasoned with white wine, onions, carrots and thyme.  To make this soup even better, we topped the soup off with a few Ricotta Cheese and Chive Dumplings that were incredibly light and fluffy.

Since my daughter is allergic to tomatoes, tomato soup is something that we all miss, and this soup makes an extremely tasty substitute.  Everyone loved the soup and I'm sure we will be making it often in the future.  I imagine this would be amazing with a simple grilled cheese sandwich. Mmmm.  Well, that's for another day!

If I am correct in my vegetarian terms, this would be suitable for lacto-vegetarians by substituting the chicken broth with vegetable broth, and this makes an excellent meat-free dinner even if you are not following a vegetarian diet.

Cook time for this soup is only about 30 minutes, and the dumplings are super easy to make in about 5 minutes, with 10 minutes of cooking time.  The dumplings can be made while the soup is cooking, so this works great for a weeknight dinner.  This is a fantastic soup and I hope you enjoy it.

Red Pepper Soup
1 TB  Olive Oil
1 small  Onion, chopped
2  Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1/2 tsp  Dried Thyme
1 carton  College Inn White Wine and Herb Broth
2 cups  Chicken Broth  or  Water
1 - 24 oz jar  Roasted Red Peppers, drained
1 large  Russet Potato, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup  Dry White Wine
1 TB  Sugar
Kosher Salt and Ground Black Pepper, to taste

Heat olive oil in a large soup pot over medium-high heat.  Add the onions, carrots, garlic and thyme  and sauté until the onions are softened, about 5 minutes.  Add the broths, peppers, potato, wine and sugar and bring to a simmer over medium-high heat.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the potatoes are cooked, about 20 minutes. 

While the soup simmers make the ricotta dumplings.

Ricotta and Chive Dumplings
8 oz  Ricotta Cheese
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1  Large Egg
1/4 cup  Grated Parmesan Cheese
1/2 cup  Flour
2 TB  Minced Fresh Chives

Bring 3 quarts of water to a simmer in a large open pot. (By using a wide pot you will be able to make all of the dumplings in one batch.)

Using a food processor, combine the ricotta, salt, pepper, egg, Parmesan and flour and process for 20 - 30 seconds.  Transfer the dumpling batter to a bowl and stir in the chives.

Drop the batter, 1 tablespoon at a time, into the hot water.  Simmer the dumplings for 10 minutes, then remove the dumplings with a slotted spoon, drain and place on a platter.  Keep warm until ready to add to the soup.

Now to Finish the Soup

Remove the soup pot from the heat and let rest for 5 minutes.

Using a stick blender, puree the soup until smooth.  Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle the soup into bowls and place 3 or 4 dumplings in the center of each bowl.  Serve with garlic bread and a dry Chianti wine.  Enjoy!!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Autumn Pork and Apple Stew

For day four of Soup Month 2013, we have a hearty autumn soup complete with sweet potatoes, juicy apples, baby carrots, lean pork sirloin and to top it off, a bottle of apple ale.  All of the ingredients combine to create a perfect blend of fall flavors.

What's great about a hearty stew like this is that the flavor gets even better as it sits.  All of those distinct flavors combine and intensify and create a wonderful broth.  Leftovers, if there are any, are delicious, so this is a great weekend meal that you can enjoy for lunch during the week.  Serve with a loaf of crunchy French bread and a cold bottle of Redds Apple Ale or a glass of good crisp Chardonnay like a Rodney Strong Chalk Hill Reserve 2009.

Preparation time for this stew is just about an hour, and this is a really easy recipe to make.  For the beer we chose a Redds Apple Ale, but you could use any good ale or cider beer.  The next time I make this I'd like to try it with Angry Orchard Hard Cider or maybe Strongbow Cider, both of which sound excellent.  Enjoy!!

3 TB  Unsalted Butter
1-1/4 lb  Pork Sirloin, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 stalks  Celery, chopped
1 small  Onion, chopped
1 cup  Baby Carrots
1 tsp  Cumin
1  Rosemary Sprig  (or use 2 tsp Dried Rosemary)
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1/3 cup  Flour
3 medium  Sweet Potatoes, peeled and cubed
2  large  Baking Apples
3 cups  Chicken Stock
1 bottle  Redds Apple Ale Beer

In a large pot melt the butter over medium heat, add the pork to the pot and cook until browned.

Add the celery, onion and carrots to the pan, stir, then add the cumin, rosemary and black pepper to the pot.  When vegetables are just tender, add the flour and stir to evenly coat all of the vegetables.

Add the potatoes, apples, stock and beer to the pot and bring to a simmer.  Lower the heat and cook uncovered until the potatoes are soft and the meat is tender, about 20 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and let stand for 10 - 15 minutes before serving.  This will allow the stew to thicken slightly.  Ladle into soup bowls and serve.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Chicken, Vegetable and Noodle Soup

For our third day of Soup Month 2013, we made some adjustments to the traditional chicken noodle soup by adding more vegetables and chicken and decreasing the noodles.  Starting with homemade stock, this soup is hearty, healthy and oh so good on a chilly fall evening.

The addition of Brussels sprouts was delicious and brought an earthy taste to the soup.  With a light clear broth, its ideal for cold and flu season, which is right around the corner.  If you prefer a thicker soup, you can blend in a cornstarch and water mixture near the end of the cooking time, or you could always add a can of cream of celery soup to provide an even thicker broth.

This soup does include a homemade stock, which takes about an hour to prepare, but the rich flavored broth is well worth the extra work.  If you don't have time to make the stock, you can use 8 cups of packaged stock and about 3 cups of cooked chicken. 

Stock Ingredients
3  Chicken Quarters, skin removed
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
1 stalk Celery, coarsely chopped
1 small  Onion, coarsely chopped

Soup Ingredients
2 tsp  Olive Oil
1 TB  Butter
1 TB  Minced Garlic
1 small  Onion, chopped
1 stalk  Celery, chopped
2 medium  Carrots, peeled and chopped
1 pkg  Frozen Brussels Sprouts, defrosted and cut in half
1 tsp  Dried Thyme
2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
12 oz  Pasta of Your Choice - Wide Egg Noodles, Linguini, etc

To prepare the chicken and stock:  Using a large soup pot, add the chicken pieces, onion, and celery  to the pot and fill the pot with water.  Add salt and pepper and bring the water to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and cook for about 45 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through and pulls easily from the bones. 

When the chicken is cooked, transfer the chicken to a platter to cool, then pull the chicken from the bones, set aside and discard the bones.  Strain the chicken stock, discard the cooked vegetables then measure 8 cups of stock and add it back to the pot.  Set aside.

In a large skillet, heat the olive oil and butter over medium heat.  Add the garlic, onion, celery, carrots and Brussels sprouts to the pan, season lightly with salt and pepper and stir to sauté.  Arrange the sprouts cut-side down so they can sear.  Add the thyme to the mixture, stir and sauté until the vegetables are just tender.

Add the cooked chicken, salt and pepper to the vegetables and stir to combine, and continue cooking until the chicken is warmed.

Bring the pot of stock to a boil over high heat and add the pasta.  Cook the pasta until just al dente, then add the chicken and vegetable mixture to the pot and cook for 5 minutes.  (If you would like a thicker soup you can add a mixture of cornstarch and water to the soup at this point, cook for 5 minutes and the soup will thicken.  One can of cream of celery or cream of chicken soup will also thicken the soup and create a creamy consistency.)  Enjoy!!

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Creamy Asparagus and Brie Soup

For our second day of Soup Month 2013 we are going a little more fancy with a special occasion soup, and we combined two of my favorite ingredients, fresh asparagus and silky Brie cheese.  This soup is definitely not low-calorie, but with its rich, creamy and almost velvety texture, I wouldn't change a thing. 

Asparagus Brie Soup would be great served as a first course for a holiday dinner, and would pair nicely with Prime Rib, roast pork loin or even grilled salmon or swordfish.  You could even serve it with a mixed greens salad and a glass of Chardonnay for a lighter meal. 

This is a very easy soup to make and tastes better than any restaurant soup I've ever tasted.  Start to finish, this soup will be ready to serve in about 40 minutes.

The Brie used in this recipe is one of my favorites, Saint Andre Brie, which is available at most larger grocery stores. With a slightly salty, buttery flavor, this cheese combines beautifully with the asparagus.  There are many varieties of Brie on the market, some are inexpensive and others can get quite pricey, but this Brie offers a consistent flavor at a reasonable price.  I discovered this brand over 20 years ago and it's still my favorite.  (If you cannot find Saint Andre Brie at your market, look for a soft-ripened Brie and it should work nicely.)  Enjoy!!

1/2 lb  Fresh Asparagus Spears, peeled* and cut into 1-inch pieces
1/2 cup  Salted Butter
1/3 cup  Flour
3 cups  Chicken Broth
1 cup  Heavy Cream
1/2 cup  Dry White Wine
5 oz  Saint Andre' Brie Cheese, rind removed
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  White Pepper, or more to taste
Homemade French Bread Croutons or Store Bought Croutons for Garnish
Blanched Asparagus Spears for Garnish

In a large saucepan, sauté the asparagus in butter until tender, about 5 to 8 minutes, depending on the thickness of the spears.  Stir in the flour until blended and cook for 2 minutes or until the flour is golden brown.

Slowly add the broth, cream and wine to the pan and bring the soup to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for 15 minutes.

Use a stick blender (or a standard blender) to puree the soup until creamy and smooth.  Cut the brie into small pieces and add the pieces to the soup.  Add salt and white pepper, adjust to taste, and simmer uncovered for 5 minutes over low heat.  Ladle the soup into small bowls, add a crouton and a few pieces of blanched asparagus for garnish and serve.

* Use a potato peeler to lighter peel the asparagus and remove the tough outer skin.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Creamy Italian Sausage and Potato Soup

Welcome to Soup Month 2013

Today begins an exciting month for our family, because October 1st marks is the start of our 4th annual Soup Month.  For the entire month of October, each day we will bring you a new soup, stew, chili, or chowder recipe, and there will be something for everyone.  My kids take part in the fun, too, by helping choose the types of soups they want to try, especially a few "Halloween" recipes that you won't want to miss.

We've got quite a variety of soups in store for you including hearty, vegetable packed chowders, creamy and elegant soups for your upcoming holiday dinners, and healthy high-fiber bean soups. It's going to be an excited month and I hope you visit each day to check out the new recipes. 

For our first day of Soup Month 2013, we start with a creamy Italian sausage soup.  Even though weeknights can be crazy busy for many families, it's still possible to get a warm bowl of soup on the table in a short amount of time.

This hearty Italian Sausage and Potato Soup makes a great one-pot meal on a cold winter night, and it only requires a few ingredients.  The Italian sausage (choose from mild or hot, depending on your preference), is cut into bite-sized pieces and then browned along with onions, garlic and potatoes, and the flavored broth adds most of the seasonings needed. The College Inn broth is something I really enjoy using.  With a mild white wine and herb base, this broth gives the soup a great depth of flavor without a very long cooking time.  From there, the only thing left to do is adjust the salt and pepper according to your taste.  Super easy and convenient.

The soup is finished with a bit of heavy cream, to add a rich flavor to the broth, and a generous amount of fresh spinach.  For a little extra thickness, I pureed some of the cooked potatoes and it really added a nice texture to the soup.

If you prefer some extra spice in your soup, add a sprinkle of red pepper flakes to the finished soup and Enjoy!!

2 tsp  Olive Oil
5  Italian Sausage Links, mild or hot, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 small  Yellow Onion, finely chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
6 medium  Potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch chunks
32 oz  College Inn White Wine and Herb Broth
6 oz  Fresh Spinach, stems removed
1/2 cup  Heavy Cream
Kosher Salt and Freshly Ground Black Pepper, to taste
Crushed Red Pepper Flakes, for garnish

In a large soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the sausage and cook until browned, about 8 minutes.

Add the onion and garlic to the pan and cook for 5 minutes, stirring to brown the vegetables.

Add the potatoes and broth to the pot and bring the mixture to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer about 20 minutes or until the potatoes are just tender.

Remove 1-1/2 cups of potatoes from the pot, along with about 1 cup of broth.  Puree this mixture and set aside.

Add the spinach and cream to the pot and stir to combine.  Once the spinach has cooked down and wilted, add the pureed potatoes back to the pot and stir.  Season with salt and pepper to taste then cook 5 minutes longer over medium-low heat.

Ladle into soup bowls and garnish with a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes, if desired.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Peanut Butter and Cranberry Bar Cookies

Although I'm not much of a baker, I've been on a baking binge this week.  Besides, I'm always up to the challenge when I come across a new product and this new peanut butter from Planter's was just destined to be turned into cookies.

I love any kind of peanut butter and this new product from Planter's, called Nut-rition Energy Mix Berry Nut, takes regular peanut butter and adds a pretty generous amount of chopped peanuts and dries cranberries. Yum!  It tastes great on a piece of wheat toast, but in a cookie it is just heavenly.

To add an extra bit of texture to these cookies, I added some ground oat flour and it really added a nice oatmeal flavor, while letting the peanut butter stand out.  For more recipes using the oat flour check out the  Banana Bread and Banana Cookies

We tried this recipe with various additions like finely chopped peanuts, extra dried cranberries and even mini chocolate chips and wouldn't you know it, out of the 3 kids, one chose peanuts, one chose cranberries and one chose the chocolate chips as their favorite...lol.  All three varieties were equally good but I would probably choose the cranberries as my favorite.

I thought about making these into regular round cookies, which certainly is an option, but in order to make this a really quick project, I chose the bar cookie route.  ( Note to self:  If in need of cookies for school a.s.a.p., this is a great go-to recipe for my files.)

1/2 cup  Flour
1/2 cup  Oat Flour
1-1/4 tsp  Baking Powder
1/4 tsp  Salt
1/4 tsp  Nutmeg
1/2 tsp  Cinnamon
1/4 cup  Butter, softened
1/2 cup  Planters Nut-rition  Berry Nut Peanut Butter
1 cup  Sugar
2  Eggs, beaten
1/2 tsp  Vanilla Extract
1/4 cup  Your Choice - Craisins, Mini-Chocolate Chips, or Chopped Peanuts

In a medium bowl combine flour and oat flour, baking powder, salt, nutmeg and cinnamon and set aside.

Use a mixer to blend the butter and peanut butter, then add the sugar and vanilla and blend, and finally add the eggs one at a time and blend until the mixture is smooth.

Add the flour mixture to the peanut butter mixture and blend until all of the flour is incorporated.  Stir the craisins or nuts into the dough using a spoon.

Pour the dough onto a lined baking sheet and spread to about 12 X 14 inches, and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until the top is golden and the center is set.  Makes about 20 bar cookies.  Enjoy!!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Banana Cookies with Chocolate Chips

If you're a fan of Banana Bread, this little cookie will be your new favorite!  Like little bundles of moist banana bread, these cookies have lots of sweet banana flavor, combined with ground oatmeal flour for texture and tiny chocolate chips.  A couple of these, with a morning cup of coffee and you'll be ready to tackle the rest of your day.

The ground oatmeal flour is something I started using for regular Banana Bread, and it's very easy to make.  Instead of spending a crazy amount of money on already ground oatmeal, I make it myself.  When Old Fashioned Quaker Oatmeal goes on sale, I stock up, then grind the oats into flour using a coffee grinder.  I've been doing this for years and I can never figure out why people pay so much for pre-ground oat flour.  It's super easy, only takes a few minutes and I can grind just a few cups at a time so I always have some ready to use.  Enjoy!!

1/2 cup  Unsalted Butter, softened
1 cup  Sugar
1  Large Egg
1 cup  Mashed Ripe Banana, about 2 medium bananas
1 tsp  Baking Soda
1-1/2 cups  Flour
1-1/2 cups  Oat Flour
1/4 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Cinnamon
1/2 tsp  Nutmeg
1 tsp  Vanilla
1 cup  Mini Chocolate Chips (semi-sweet or milk chocolate)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Blend the butter and sugar together until creamy.  Add the egg and blend.

Add the bananas and baking soda to the butter mixture and blend until combined.  Add the flour, oat flour, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla, blend the mixture again, then stir in the chocolate chips by hand, mixing just until combined.

Drop by heaping tablespoons onto the lined baking sheets, keeping about 1-1/2 inches between the cookies.  Bake for 12 - 14 minutes or until golden.  Let cookies rest on warm sheets for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool.  Makes about 2 dozen cookies.  Store in an airtight container with waxed paper between the layers.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Soup Month 2013 - October 1st thru October 31st - 31 New Soups in 31 Days

Fall has officially begun and it's almost time for our Annual Soup Month 2013.  After this very warm summer, I'm looking forward to cooler temperatures and some new delicious soups.

Beginning October 1st and continuing all the way through Halloween, we will be posting a new soup, stew, chowder, chili or cobbler recipe each and every day, and there are some yummy recipes coming your way.  From creamy and elegant bisques worthy of your Holiday dinners, to hearty vegetable stews and savory cobblers to warm your winter evenings, there will be a new recipe to entice your taste buds each day. 

So get those crock-pots and soup pots ready and be sure to check back daily or follow us on Facebook or via email  so you don't miss a single recipe.

Just to get everyone in the mood for soup, here are a few of the most popular soups from the last few years.

Ham and Split Pea Soup 

Ham and Bean Soup 

Savory Pumpkin Soup in the Crock-Pot 

Shrimp Bisque 

Pork Harvest Chili 

Oktoberfest Beef Stew 

Friday, September 20, 2013

Chorizo Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Chorizo and chicken always work well together, with the spicy chorizo adding a generous layer of flavor to the mild white-meat chicken.  To make this combination even better, we added creamy Monterey Jack cheese and finely minced poblano peppers.

Many people think making chicken bundles like these is difficult, but once you learn the method, these are super easy to prepare.  Here are a few hints:  By slicing the chicken breasts horizontally, but not all of the way through, you can open the chicken up like a book, lay it flat, then pound the chicken until it is as thin as you'd like. Second, instead of using toothpicks to secure the bundles, I use metal turkey lacers.  You can buy 6 or 8 of these at the grocery for about $2 and they work great for meals like this one.  (Toothpicks always scare me.  I really don't want a piece of wood in someone's dinner! lol)  Last tip, Be sure to place the bundles seam side down and try to tuck the end pieces in under the bundle.  This will keep the cheese and other ingredients inside of the bundle as much as possible.

For the sauce we prepared a homemade enchilada sauce, but if you're in a hurry, you could also use a can of premade sauce.  The sauce was served on the side so the chicken can be dipped, or it can be spooned over the chicken before serving.  Serve with Green Chili Cornbread and Enjoy!!

4 large  Boneless and Skinless Chicken Breasts
1 large  Poblano Chili, finely minced
1/4 lb  Bulk Chorizo Sausage, cooked and crumbled
4 oz  Monterey Jack Cheese, cut into 4 thick slices
1/2 cup  Bread Crumbs
1 tsp  Chili Powder
1 tsp  Kosher Salt
1 tsp  Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp  Cumin
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
6 tb  Butter, melted
Chopped Green Onions for Garnish

Enchilada Sauce
8 oz  Tomato Sauce
1/2 tsp  Cumin
1/4 tsp  Chili Powder
1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/4 tsp  Ground Black Pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Line a baking sheet with foil and set aside.

Combine the bread crumbs, chili powder, salt, garlic powder, cumin and pepper in a shallow dish and set aside.

Using a sharp knife, slice each chicken breast horizontally about 3/4 through.  Open the chicken breast so you have a large fillet.  Place a piece of waxed paper over the chicken and pound the meat until it is about 1/4-inch thick.  Do this carefully so the meat does not pull apart.  Set aside and prepare the other pieces of chicken.

Spread each piece of chicken with equal amounts of chopped poblano and chorizo, then top with a slice of Monterey Jack cheese.  Roll up each bundle and secure with a toothpick or metal skewer.

Dip each bundle into the melted butter, then roll it in the bread crumb mixture, pressing firmly so the crumbs will adhere.  Place the bundles seam-side down on the baking sheet and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden and the chicken juices run clear.

Prepare the sauce while the chicken is cooking.

Combine the tomato sauce, cumin, chili powder, salt and pepper in a small skillet and heat to a low boil, then reduce heat to warm until ready to serve.

Remove chicken from the oven and let rest for 5 minutes.  Slice each piece of chicken, place on a plate and spoon the sauce over the chicken or serve it on the side.  Sprinkle with green onions for a garnish.

Green Chili Cornbread

Home-style cornbread is a great side dish for many meals, especially soup or chili, and only takes a few minutes to prepare.  With the winter months just around the corner, this is a great recipe to keep handy.  We served this bread with Chorizo Stuffed Chicken Breasts, and it complimented the dish nicely.

I got a little sneaky with this bread in order to get past my daughter's picky personality, and I actually loved the results.

Since my daughter does not like "little green things" in foods, I decided to puree the corn and chilies together and the results were delicious.  Not only did she not notice the little flecks of green chilies, the flavor of the chilies was infused into the cornbread. 

This same recipe can be used with white or yellow corn meal mix and you could also add some extra flair to the bread by adding minced jalapenos, grated cheddar cheese or even crumbled bacon.

I used my 12-inch "everyday pan" for this bread and it cooked beautifully, but you could also use a 9-inch cake pan for a thicker bread, just add about 5 minutes to your cook time.

2 TB  Butter
1/3 cup  Canola or Vegetable Oil
2 cups  Self-Rising White Corn Meal Mix
2/3 cup  Milk
2/3 cup  Buttermilk
2  Eggs
2 TB  Sugar
1 4-oz can  Diced Green Chilies, (pureed if desired)
1 cup  Frozen Corn, defrosted, (pureed if desired)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spread butter in a large cast-iron or glass baking dish, making sure to coat up the sides of the pan.

In a medium bowl combine the remaining ingredients and stir until blended.

Place the buttered pan in the oven for 3 - 4 minutes or until the butter has melted.  Remove the pan from the oven, pour the batter into the pan and bake for 20 - 25 minutes or until golden on the edges.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Vanilla Ice Cream with Peanut Butter Oreos

OK.  So, I know this is not a low calorie treat.  But, if you like to treat yourself to a really decadent dessert every once in a while, this is the one to try.  Since the weather has been unbelievably hot this week, we decided it was time for something cool for dessert.

We have this great little ice cream maker that can even be used to make fruit sorbets or frozen yogurt.  It's so much fun to use and with just a few ingredients, you can have incredible creamy ice cream at home. 

The processing time is only about 25 minutes or so, and you have delicious soft-serve ice cream.  For a firmer consistency, we like to freeze the mixture in an airtight bowl for a few hours so the ice cream is completely frozen.

Tonight we went with basic vanilla ice cream and added crumbled Peanut Butter Filled Oreos to the mixture just before the processing was complete.  After a couple of hours in the freezer, dessert was ready to serve.

1 cup  Whole Milk
3/4 cup  Sugar
2 cups  Heavy Cream
1-1/2 tsp  Pure Vanilla Extract
3/4 cup  Peanut Butter-Filled Oreo Crumbles (about 4 cookies, crushed)
Extra Oreos for Garnish

In a medium bowl, use a hand mixer to blend the milk and sugar on low speed until all of the sugar is dissolved, about 2 minutes.  Stir in the heavy cream and vanilla.

Add the mixture to the frozen ice cream bowl, turn the ice cream machine on and mix until thickened, about 20-25 minutes.  During the last 5 minutes of this process, add the cookie crumbles to the mixture.

Serve immediately with a sprinkle of crumbled Oreos.  For hard-frozen ice cream, place the soft ice cream in a plastic, air-tight bowl with a lid, and freeze for 2 - 4 hours or overnight.    Makes about 10 1/2-cup servings.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Red Potato Salad

On a hot summer night, nothing tastes better with a grilled steak dinner than a cool and creamy Red Potato Salad.  This recipe is one of my favorites and is a great go-to recipe for weekend barbecues.

We combined the cooked potatoes with bacon, chopped hard-boiled eggs and grated cheese, and added cool cucumbers and radishes for some bright summer flavor and color.  The Green Goddess Dressing, which is made with lots of fresh herbs, adds a nice creamy coating to the salad, but if you don't have time to prepare the dressing, you can also use bottled Caesar dressing, or any of your favorite creamy dressings that you have on hand would work fine.

3 lbs Red Potatoes, washed and rinsed
1/2 lb thick cut Bacon, diced in small pieces
1  medium Cucumber, peeled, sliced in half lengthwise, seeds removed and then diced
6-8  Radishes, thinly sliced
6  Hard-Boiled Eggs, cooled and coarsely chopped
1/4 cup grated Parmesan and Romano Cheese
1 tsp  Salt
1/2 tsp  Black Pepper
Green Goddess Dressing - click here for recipe, or use your favorite bottled dressing
Fresh Chives, chopped, for garnish
Diced Pimiento for garnish

Cut red potatoes into 1-inch cubes and place in a large pot.  cover the potatoes with water and boil gently until just tender, but not fully cooked. Drain and cool completely. While potatoes cool, cook bacon and then set it aside to cool.

To assemble the salad: Place potatoes in a large bowl and add bacon, cucumbers, radishes, eggs, cheese, salt and pepper. Pour the Green Goddess Dressing over the salad, adding about a 3/4 cup to start, then gently blend the salad with a spatula. You can add more dressing, if needed, to suit your own taste. Chill for at least 1 hour before serving.  Sprinkle with chopped fresh chives and diced pimiento before serving.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Red Pepper Pasta Sauce

Now that the kids are back in school, dinnertime has again become a race against the clock.  Between travel time between the schools, then homework and this huge pile of papers that have to be signed right away (gee thanks teachers), getting dinner on the table fast is a challenge.

Well, tonight we have a solution for you.  This is a delicious and easy to make Italian dinner that everyone in your family will love. Even the picky kids!  Add some crunchy garlic bread and you can have dinner on the table in about 45 minutes.

Since my daughter is allergic to tomatoes, but she really likes spaghetti, we created this sauce using roasted red peppers that come in a jar.  The peppers already have that nice bright roasted flavor, so most of the seasoning is already there, just add some dried Italian spices, a bit of half and half and cream cheese to create a rich, creamy sauce.  We also added some spicy-hot Italian sausage and balanced the sauce with a dash of white wine.  For a little extra heat add a sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes.

5 links  Hot Italian Sausage, casing removed and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large  Green Pepper, chopped
1 medium  Yellow Onion, chopped
1 TB  Minced Garlic
6 oz  Mushrooms, cleaned and chopped
1/2 cup  Dry White Wine
2 tsp  Dry Italian Seasoning
1-1/2 tsp  Kosher Salt
1/2 tsp  Ground Black Pepper
2 jars  Mezzetta Roasted Red Peppers, half of liquid drained then pureed
1/2 cup  Half and Half
4 oz  Cream Cheese
2 oz  Grated Parmesan Cheese
Grated Parmesan Cheese for Garnish
Red Pepper Flakes for Garnish
Cooked Whole Wheat Spaghetti or Pasta of Your Choice

In a large skillet, brown the sausage pieces over medium-high heat, about 8 minutes, stirring occasionally.  When the sausage is no longer pink add the peppers, onions, garlic and mushrooms and cook until the vegetables have softened, about 5 minutes. 

Add the wine to the skillet to deglaze the bottom, stirring to loosen and browned bits from the pan.  When the wine has reduced by half, add the remaining ingredients to the pan, stir and simmer for 15 to 20 minutes or until the cream cheese has melted.

Spoon the sauce over cooked pasta and serve with a sprinkle of grated Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes.  Enjoy!!