Tag Archives: freezes well

Chicken Noodle Soup {Healthy + Easy}

8 Feb

Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup-5This is a LONG cold stretch, isn’t it? The winter has been unrelenting for so many parts of the country. Know what helps? Soup.

Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup-7

Soup helps so many things. It is an ultimate comfort food for a reason – it warms from the inside out, and somehow always brings a smile. This winter, I have been thrilled every time I have seen a big bowl of chicken noodle soup staring back at me when I open the fridge. Score.

Making chicken soup from scratch is not difficult, and you know exactly what is going in to it: chicken, vegetables, garlic, herbs, water. Noodles if you want them, and salt to your taste. It is barely more work than boiling all of those things together, I promise. Healthy, easy, satisfying.

Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup-3 copyIngredients:
– 3 carrots {wash all; leave one unpeeled and cut it into three pieces; peel two, and cut the tops and bottom off of them}
– 2 pieces of celery {wash all; cut into three pieces each}
– 1 yellow or white onion {wash it; prep it to get read to chop; cut off the top and bottom, and remove the outer peels}
– 2 bay leaves
– 1/2 t whole black peppercorns
– 1 t kosher salt
– 1 whole organic or hormone-free chicken, any size
– water {about 6-10 cups}
– 1 t dried thyme
– 3 cloves garlic, sliced
– 1 c wide egg noodles {optional}

How do I make it?

  • Place the unpeeled carrot, the celery, and the trimmings (the parts you cut off and wouldn’t eat) from the carrots, celery, and onion in a large soup pot. Add the bay leaves, peppercorns, and salt. Bring the pot over to the counter next to the sink.
  • Wash the chicken in the sink and remove the bag of giblets, if it’s inside the chicken. Pat dry with paper towels (just so it doesn’t drip).
  • Place the chicken on top of the vegetable trimmings. Cover with water until the chicken is submerged by an inch.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat; when it boils, reduce the heat so the liquid is just simmering – this is about medium heat for me because the pot is so full.
  • Cook for about an hour.
  • During this time, dice the onion, slice the garlic, and slice the two remaining carrots into coins less than 1/4″ thick.
  • After the hour, try to skim off any fat from the top, but don’t worry, you will have another chance to skim off fat.
  • Place a very large bowl (or another soup pot) in your sink, and place a colander inside. Have a second bowl, and a fine mesh strainer available close by.
  • Remove the chicken from the pot with tongs, and place on a surface with a lip (like a curved plate). Let it cool for a bit.
  • Meanwhile, carefully pour the contents from the pot into the colander that is inside the bowl. Discard what lands in the colander – you only want to keep the chicken stock (and the chicken, which you have set aside).
  • Place the fine mesh strainer over the second bowl, and pour the chicken stock from the first bowl into the second.
  • Take the empty pot and heat over medium-high. Add a bit of olive oil and cook the diced onion and carrots until they start to soften; add the garlic and thyme, and cook for a few minutes more.
  • Add the strained stock back to the pot, and bring back to a boil.
  • While you are waiting for it to boil, pull the chicken off of the bone. I usually just use the white meat in my soup. You can chop it or shred it.
  • Add the noodles {if using} and chicken, and cook until the noodles are cooked through.
  • You could eat the soup now, but you will probably find it to taste a bit greasy. So, if you can bear to wait, once it cools a bit, refrigerate it over night. I find that a thick plastic pitcher (or two) with a snap-on lid words great for refrigerating and serving purposes.
  • In the morning, you will find that the fat has risen to the top and solidified. Just scoop it off with a large spoon and throw it away. You may be scooping out a bit of thyme this way, but don’t worry, you already cooked the flavor out of it.

Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup-8

More info please?

This is a great lunch to bring to work – just keep a pitcher in the work fridge, and have a bowl on hand for heating. It also freezes really well, I would recommend portioning into the round ziplock containers before freezing. You can change up the noodles you use, but the wide egg noodles just scream chicken noodle soup, don’t they? Want to make your own chicken stock for use in another recipe?  I would use this same method and just stop at the point where you strain the stock. Use the chicken for another purpose, like a chicken salad.

Healthy Chicken Noodle Soup-6


New Year’s Resolutions

14 Jan

We are two weeks in to 2014, and I thought I would check in on how everyone is doing with their New Year’s Resolutions. How goes it?

I try more and more to not have to find a reason to make positive changes, but there is something about a crisp new page on the calendar that is conducive to new behaviors, attitudes, and … food! New ideas in the kitchen, new recipes, new ingredients, you name it: 2014 seems like a great opportunity.

I have a few food-related New Year’s Resolutions for myself and want to share them with you here, and then I will check those boxes, so to speak, in future posts. I even made a “New Year’s Resolution” tag, if you would like to follow along that way. We are more likely to stick to our goals when we share them with others, right? Well here we go!

  1. Take healthy lunches and snacks to work: It’s often a struggle for me, time-wise, to plan meals for the week, get to the grocery store, cook, pack lunches the night before, and remember to bring it the next day. I would love to get this down to a system! It seems like casseroles and other one-pot comfort foods might be a good option (one container – easy to transport; and filling – our work cafeteria closes at 2pm so healthy afternoon snacks can be challenging). For snacks, healthy, filling, and easy to transport are also key. On busy days, I maaaay be guilty of trolling the halls for unattended candy jars (sigh), and I would love to curb that habit.
  2. Eat filling and healthy breakfasts: Too often I find myself needing to hunker down and work hard between 10:30 and 11:30 on weekdays … not because of any particular deadline or project at work, but because 10:30 is about when my coffee buzz has waned, and 11:30 is when it’s socially acceptable to eat lunch. When I have a full breakfast, I can power through; when I skip breakfast, I feel it. I generally don’t have a ton of time to prepare breakfast in the morning, but oatmeal is one option; I would also like to get into a routine of make-ahead breakfast sandwiches and breakfast burritos, and other similar dishes that I can grab on the go or heat quickly right when I get to work.
  3. Eat less meat: I love meat. I do. But I would like to exercise more moderation. I can’t promise that I will have “Meatless Mondays,” but I don’t think that one or two days per week is unreasonable.
  4. Get to know a few herbs and spices better: How many spices are in your spice rack? I counted once, when a friend of mine was writing an article for a magazine on a related topic, and it was more than 60 – I have to guess I am over 70 or 75 now. Some I crank through, like oregano, cumin, and red pepper flakes … others, like garam masala, tarragon, and even paprika I would like to find a few solid recipes for. And as fresh herbs become more bountiful in the warmer months, I am looking forward to picking up something pretty at the farmer’s market and exploring! Which herbs do you wish you knew more about or used more?
  5. Make my father proud: My dad wishes I had a Jewish food blog. I don’t. That niche is not really sustainable for me, but I like the idea of trying to make one traditional recipe per month. It will be worth it even if only to hear my dad do his impersonation of what he thinks it sounds like when I write blog posts. So cute.

If you have ideas for anything in this post, please leave them in the comments!

Perfect Fudge Brownies {King Arthur Flour Recipe}

22 Dec

King Arthur Fudge BrowniesI have identified these brownies as the beginning of my downfall this holiday season. I usually have considerable willpower, but with the way I acted around these brownies, I was surprised not to find “kryptonite” in the ingredient list.

The photo shoot for these brownies started with sixteen … and ended with … less than sixteen.

King Arthur Fudge Brownies-6

Well, more than four, but less than sixteen.

In the fudgy vs. cakey brownie battle, I side with the fudgy crew. These brownies are thick and fudgy, with a dense texture that I believe is referred to in culinary terms as “perfect.”

I have been using King Arthur flour almost exclusively for a few years (I also love their catalog, full of specialty baking items, so fun to peruse). But I had not explored the recipes available on the King Arthur website until I clicked through an email I received from them. I will be visiting that site often – tons of good stuff there!

I learned something really important, in the brownie realm, from this recipe. You know how sometimes when you make brownies, they have a crackly flaky top layer, and sometimes they don’t? Turns out that layer results from heating the butter and sugar together before mixing them in to the remaining ingredients. I had never paid attention, but some recipes call for this step and some don’t. So there you have it!

King Arthur Fudge Brownies-3How much do people LOVE round “two bite brownies”? Rhetorical question. Make this recipe into nuggets of goodness by using a mini muffin pan instead of a square baking dish. Just make sure to spray and flour the pan first, and have a small implement (like the TINY spatula shown below) to loosen them from the pan after a few minutes of cooling. {Or save yourself some work and just cut the brownies smaller from the square pan.}

King Arthur Fudge Brownies-4

King Arthur Fudge Brownies-5

– 2 eggs
– 1/2 c + 2 T high-quality cocoa
– 1/2 t kosher salt
– 1/2 t baking powder
– 1/2 t instant coffee granules or espresso powder (you won’t taste it – it just heightens the chocolate flavor!)
– 1.5 t vanilla
– 1 stick unsalted butter
– 1 c + 2 T sugar
– 3/4 c flour
– 1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks {I had some Baker’s semi-sweet chocolate squares that I wanted to use up so I chopped them roughly}

How do I make it?

  • Preheat the oven to 350. Lightly grease an 8″ x 8″ or 9″ x 9″ pan.
  • Crack the eggs into a bowl, and beat them with the cocoa, salt, baking powder, coffee granules or espresso powder, and vanilla until smooth.
  • In a small saucepan over low heat, combine the butter and sugar, and heat, stirring, until the butter is melted and the mixture is hot and JUST starts to bubble. Once it bubbles and the mixture looks shiny, turn off the heat.
  • Add the hot butter and sugar mixture to the egg mixture, and stir until smooth.
  • Add the flour, and stir until smooth.
  • Add the chocolate chips or chunks, and stir to distribute. If you want the chips to retain their shape and not melt in, let the batter cool in the bowl for a few minutes before stirring in the chips.
  • Pour the batter into the prepared pan.
  • Bake the brownies for about 30 minutes (check around 27 minutes). When a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean, or with just a few moist crumbs clinging to it, the brownies are done. The brownies will be more set around the edges, and the middle will still look moist (but still cooked through).
  • Cool on a rack before cutting; use a bench scraper to make sure you get straight lines. But if you don’t get straight lines, and need to keep “evening it off,” I won’t tell.

King Arthur Fudge Brownies-2Original link: http://www.kingarthurflour.com/recipes/fudge-brownies-recipe

Challah {Four-Strand Braid}

29 Nov

Four Braid ChallahThanksgiving snuck up on me this year – does everyone feel that way every year? I had suggested to my parents that we embrace “Thanksgivukkah” and serve a Jewish-themed appetizer course, followed by the traditional Thanksgiving meal. They did not require much convincing. Any excuse to eat latkes, lox, and pastrami is welcomed around these parts.

I was not able to attend October’s Cooking Club (Hostess: SLSC; Theme: Thanksgiving Inspiration; Date: 10.27.13), but the menu included Pumpkin Challah expertly baked by EDL, which received rave reviews from the attendees, so I decided to include it in my family’s celebration.

However, I have a very traditional family, and as I braided the pumpkin challah, I could tell my dad would have preferred a regular old challah.  The pumpkin-flavored bread ended up being delicious and appreciated, but my dad was right. If you were expecting challah, it wasn’t “challah.”

I have made challah before, but looking through my recipe files, it may have been over 8 years ago – and I have never made a braid with more than 3 strands. The pumpkin challah turned out perfect, so I went back to the same source for her traditional challah recipe. Another winner! I particularly appreciated the tutorial on how to braid challah, and I decided on the four-strand braid. I wanted to use half the batch of dough to make dinner rolls, and didn’t think I would have enough dough to attempt anything more complex that would still have a wow-factor. I literally got “oohs” and “ahhs.” It is hard to deny that braided challah is indeed gorgeous.

– 1 packet active dry yeast
– 1/4 c water (100-110 degrees)
– 1 t sugar
– 1 egg (whole)
– 3 egg yolks {save the whites for breakfast tomorrow!}
– 1/3 cup honey
– 2 T canola oil
– 1 t salt
– 1 1/4 c water (100-110 degrees)
– 6 c flour {you probably won’t use it all, but should have it available}
– 1 egg yolk
– 2 t water

How do I make it?

  • Pour the yeast into a large mixing bowl. Add the 1/4  c water and 1 t sugar. Stir to combine and dissolve, and let it sit until it gets foamy (about 5 minutes).
  • While the yeast is doing its thing, in a medium bowl, whisk together the whole egg, 3 egg yolks, honey, canola oil and salt.
  • When the yeast in the large bowl is foamy and fragrant, add the remaining 1 1/4 c water and pour in the egg mixture you just whisked. Whisk it all together.
  • Add flour to the mixture, one half cup at a time. When mixture becomes too thick to stir, use your hands to knead. Continue to add flour until the dough is smooth and pliable. {You can use a stand mixer with the dough hook, but it doesn’t take that long or use too much energy to do it with your hands. When you use your hands, you are very aware of whether it is too sticky. When the dough is ready, it should be slightly tacky on your fingers, but not stick in clumps.}
  • Place the kneaded dough in a large bowl that you have sprayed with cooking oil (if you want to use the same bowl, be sure to wash it out first). Spray the top of the dough with oil too.
  • Cover the dough with a clean kitchen towel, and place in your oven (that is OFF) to rise. In a large microwave-safe container (like a 12-cup Pyrex), microwave water until it boils, and place that into the oven with the dough.
  • Let the dough rise for 1 hour.
  • Take the dough bowl out and punch it down to remove air bubbles. Re-microwave the water and place it back in the oven.
  • Cover the dough bowl again with the towel and place it back inside the oven and let it rise for another hour. At this point, it should have approximately doubled.
  • Take the dough out of the oven and punch it down a few times. Flour a smooth surface like a cutting board (or a clean granite countertop). Punch the dough down into the bowl a few times, and turn the dough out onto the floured surface. Knead for 3 to 5 minutes, adding more flour as needed to keep the dough from feeling too sticky on your fingers.
  • I used half of the recipe to make small dinner rolls*, and the other half for a braided loaf.
  • Separate the dough you will braid into 4 equal portions. I found it easiest to use a bench scraper to cut the dough into long pieces, rather than balls. You will be rolling the dough into rectangles (rather than a circle), so this served as a little shortcut for me.
  • With a floured rolling pin (or a floured wine bottle – whatever you have – but make sure it is well-floured and stays that way), roll one portion of dough into a rectangle. Now take that rectangle and, using your hands, roll it into a long strand (like a play-doh snake). Roll the strand around and try to work out the seam, and squeeze out any air bubbles. If you can, try to taper the ends a bit by squeezing them and then rolling to smooth them out.
  • Repeat this process with the other three portions.
  • Lay the strands out parallel to each other, with the tapered ends farthest from you.
  • Loosely pinch the strands together at the top. You are now ready to braid.
  • Starting all the way at the right, weave the strand OVER-UNDER-OVER. That is, OVER the first strand to the left of it, then UNDER the next strand, then OVER the final strand. Leave that strand all the way at the left, and repeat with the next strand. Continue this process until you are at the end of the strands.

Four Braid Challah

  • Pinch together and tuck under both ends.

Four Braid Challah-2

  • Step back and admire.
  • Place the braid on a rimmed baking sheet covered in parchment paper.
  • Whisk the egg yolk and water together in a small bowl until smooth and uniform.
  • * To make dinner rolls, make more strands, and tie them each in a knot, pinching the ends together and placing that pinched seam down on the parchment-covered baking sheet.
  • Brush the dough (the large braid or the dinner rolls) with the egg wash.

Four Braid Challah-3

  • Let the dough rise, uncovered, for 30-45 more minutes.
  • Place a rack in the middle of your oven, and preheat to 350. You will be baking for 40 minutes total, in two shifts.
    • After the first 20 minutes, pull the challah out of the oven and re-brush it with the remaining egg wash, making sure to get in the little crevasses. {One of my favorite things about challah is that little part that gets exposed during baking – but you need to take this time to brush it with egg wash!}
    • Return to the oven and bake for another 20 minutes. If the crust is getting too brown, place a piece of tin foil over it (the dough will still bake, but the crust will not get more brown under the foil).
  • The dough is done when it sounds hollow when you tap on it (easier to hear when you tap on the bottom).
  • Serve with pretty much anything – breakfast, lunch or dinner.

Four Braid Challah-5Happy Thanksgivukkah!

Original link: http://theshiksa.com/2010/08/25/challah-bread-part-1-the-blessing-and-the-dough/comment-page-2/#comments

our-growing-edge-badgeThis post is part of the monthly “link up party” called Our Growing Edge, which is an online way to connect food bloggers and inspire us to try new things. Our Growing Edge is the brain child of Genie from Bunny Eats Design, and I am the hostess this month. The posts for November’s link up can be found here. New for me with this post: A four-strand braid for challah!

Butterscotch Granola Blondies

8 Nov

Butterscotch Granola Blondies-4Do you go through food phases, like me? For weeks or months at a time, I can’t get enough of smoothies, or egg white and cheese sandwiches, or green tea. For a period during law school, granola was my jam. One day I reached for one of the specialty brands that are sold on the highest shelf in the cereal aisle, and a love connection was made.

Heartland Granola is not sold everywhere, but I buy it locally at Harris Teeter. I hope, for your sake, that you can find it locally (or online). If not, any granola that isn’t too cluster-y would work. But because I found this recipe on the side of the Heartland Granola box, I am partial to that brand. I recently found that they post a whole list of recipes using their granola – I can’t wait to try them out!*

I have said it before and will continue to repeat it – recipes “on the side of the box” showcase the product you are buying, and can be some of the best you will find. Not every recipe will suit you of course (and sometimes the cross-branding with other products is irking), but I assure you I have put many of these recipes into my rotation.Butterscotch Granola Blondies

I brought a batch of these blondies in to work this week, and although many people seemed to be initially skeptical of butterscotch, you should have seen how eyes lit up at Bite #1! My colleagues commented on the doughy center, and the almost oatmeal cookie taste (“but different”). The granola bakes in, and loses its crunchy texture, but still lends the blondies some structure. I would not generally say that I like butterscotch, but try butterscotch baking chips. They mostly just taste like sugar, and a bit like white chocolate (which is mostly just sugar). If you are looking for something just a little different to bring to a party or to work, or to have around the kitchen for the weekend to snack on, and don’t have a ton of time, may I recommend this recipe. I can assure you that you – and anyone who takes a bite – will not be disappointed.

And, if I do say so myself, they are quite photogenic.

Butterscotch Granola Blondies-3

– 1/2 c butterscotch chips
– 3 T butter
– 1 c brown sugar, packed
– 2 eggs
– 1/2 t vanilla
– 1.75 c Heartland Granola Cereal (original variety)
1 c flour
– 1 t baking powder
– 1/2 t kosher salt

How do I make it?

  • Preheat oven to 350.
  • In a heat-proof medium or large bowl {be sure to check your bowl for its intended usage!}, melt butterscotch chips and butter together. You can do this in the oven as it’s warming, in the microwave, or on the stove top. Cool a bit.
  • Stir in the brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, and granola.
  • Then stir in the flour, baking powder, and salt.
  • Spread batter in 8″ x 8″ pan.
  • Bake until toothpick comes out clean, about 30 minutes. Set the timer for 25 minutes, and take a look. When it’s done, the edges will get a bit firmer than the middle and will seem to swell up a bit.
  • Cool before cutting.

Butterscotch Granola Blondies-5


Butterscotch Granola Blondies-2

Original link: http://heartlandbrands.com/page/recipes/granola-recipes/

*Although, as with all printed recipes, it’s important to read them carefully. This recipe online states that an 8″ x 8″ pan of blondies, cut in to 2″ squares, will make … 36 bars? I am NOT a math person, but cutting an 8″ square pan in to 2″ squares should make 16 blondies. The cardboard remnant I have from the side of a box from over a decade ago does not have such measurements on it!

Chicken Chowder with Chipotle

3 Nov

Chicken Chowder with Chipotle

The word “chowder” derives from the french word for cauldron: chaudière.  Into that chaudière go the rich ingredients that make a rich, thick, creamy soup, usually headlined with seafood or corn.

Thick creamy soups are not my jam (my arteries whimper just thinking about them), so I was intrigued, and then thrilled, by this recipe that came to me via the lovely SCP. We made this hearty soup for a friend who needed a little help in the kitchen for a while. I am always on the look-out for healthy, easy soup recipes, and this Chicken Chowder with Chipotle is now officially in the rotation. Serve with a loaf of grainy whole wheat bread, and call it an evening!

This recipe uses one 15-oz can of hominy. What is hominy? No one at my local (large, regional chain) grocery store knew either – nor did anyone know where to find it in their own store, even though they carried a store-brand variety! But it was a 20-minute scavenger hunt well-spent – hopefully you will be able to benefit from my (literal) legwork.

So, what is hominy? It is a corn product, that has been soaked in an alkali solution, which removes the hull and germ of the corn and causes the corn kernel to puff up to about twice its normal size. It has the consistency of a garbanzo bean (chickpea) but the taste of corn. When using a can of hominy (note that there is also a dried version, not to be used here), it should be rinsed and drained just like a can of beans.

And where is hominy in your grocery store? Try the canned vegetable aisle; if it’s not there, try the Southern section of the international aisle.

– 1 chipotle chile, chopped (from a small can of chipotle in adobo sauce)
– 1 T extra virgin olive oil
– 2 medium chopped sweet onions (OR 1 large)
– 1 c chopped carrot
– 1/2 c chopped celery
– 1 t ground cumin
– 1/2 t dried oregano
– 1/2 t dried thyme
– 6 garlic cloves, crushed
– 6 c fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth
– 2 medium boneless chicken breasts
– 2 small red potatoes, diced (OR 1 large)
– 1 15-oz can white or golden hominy, rinsed and drained
– 1/4 c whipping cream OR skim milk
– 1 t adobo sauce (from the same can)
– 1 c drained diced tomato
– 1/4 c chopped fresh cilantro

How do I make it?

  • Heat a large dutch oven or soup pot (or chaudière, if you have one) over medium heat. Add the 1 T oil; when heated, add chopped chile, onion, carrot, celery, cumin, oregano, thyme, and garlic. Cook 5 minutes or until onion is tender, stirring frequently.
  • Add just a little broth (about 1/4 c), and as it sizzles, scrape up the herbs and vegetables that have probably browned on the bottom of the pan. Add the rest of the broth and bring to a boil.
  • Add chicken and cover the pot. Reduce heat to medium-low, and simmer 30 minutes or until chicken is cooked through (don’t hesitate to just cut in to it to see if it is white in the thickest part).
  • Remove the pot from the burner.
  • Remove chicken with a fork or slotted spoon, and cool slightly. Shred chicken with 2 forks, or chop finely, and keep it to the side.
  • Prepare a large bowl – there is going to be a bit of transferring going on.
  • Now we need to blend the soup in 3 or 4 batches. Place one-third (or one quarter – we are not in a hurry here) of broth mixture in a blender or food processor, being careful to not add too much (if you add too much hot liquid, it will kind of implode/explode). Process until smooth. Pour pureed broth mixture into the large bowl.
  • Repeat procedure in two (or three) more batches with remaining broth mixture. Return pureed mixture to the pot, and return the pot to the burner, over medium heat.
  • Stir in the potatoes and hominy and bring to a simmer.
  • Cook, uncovered, 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Stir in chicken and cream (or milk); simmer 5 minutes. Remove from heat, and stir in the reserved adobo sauce, tomatoes, and cilantro.

More info please?

I recommend adding a third chicken breast at the cooking stage, and removing it for later use, either on a salad, or in a stir fry, or in a chicken salad. Or any other way you would use chicken. This is a great, easy method to add some flavor, and will save you cooking time later!

Original link: http://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/chupe-de-pollo-con-chipotle-chicken-chowder-with-chipotle-10000000833307/

Chicken Tortilla Soup

12 Oct

Chicken Tortilla Soup-5

The primary reason I started this blog was to catalog my tried and true recipes – those in my repertoire that I make with some frequency, but still can never quite seem to put my hands on when I have a craving for them.

This Chicken Tortilla Soup recipe may have been one of the first soups I ever made, and when I was learning to cook it was so satisfying to combine the ingredients and end up with this awesome creation. Now that I know how to cook, it is mostly just satisfying to eat – which of course, is not at all a bad thing – but it always brings back great memories from over the years, when this soup was shared with friends, or thrown together after an exhausting day, or simmered on a cold rainy night and sipped on the couch in front of catch-up DVR (like tonight).

It has all the hallmarks of a solid go-to soup recipe. It is an easy one – there is no blending involved; it is a healthy one – all fresh ingredients and no cream; and it is a comforting one – like most non-fussy soups are. And you can’t beat the bright colors for visual appeal!

Chicken Tortilla Soup-4

– 3 corn tortillas
– 1 sweet onion, diced
– 6 garlic cloves, minced
– 1 bunch of cilantro (about 1/4 c), chopped
– 2 14.5 oz. cans diced tomatoes
– 4 – 8 c chicken broth or stock {it’s up to you, depending on the size of your pot and how thick you like your soup}
– 1 c canned or frozen corn
– 1 T cumin
– 1 T chili powder
– 4 bay leaves
– 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
– 1/2 t cayenne pepper

How do I make it?

  • Heat a large soup pot or dutch oven over medium high heat. When warm, add extra virgin olive oil and saute the onion until is softens and starts to brown. Then add the garlic and cook until it starts to brown and smell fragrant. Tear or chop 3 corn tortillas into bite size pieces and add to the pot.
  • Add the chopped cilantro and add it to the pot {reserve a bit to serve with the completed soup}. Then add the tomatoes with their juice, and the chicken stock, cumin, chili powder, and bay leaves. Bring the soup to a boil.
  • Reduce heat to a simmer and add the corn, whole chicken breasts, and cayenne.
  • Simmer for 20 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken breasts and put aside to cool.
  • Once the chicken is cool, shred it with two forks, or chop it into small pieces, and return it to the soup pot.
  • Serving suggestions: fried tortilla strips, diced avocado, additional cilantro.

Original link: Well, this is not the original link, as I first found this recipe almost 7 years ago and the post in the following link is dated 2012, but it is word for word from the pdf I have saved on my computer … http://reluctantgourmet.com/education/culinary-career-path/item/135-tortilla-soup-recipe

If you like this, you may also like:

Southwest Quinoa BowlSweet Potato & Quinoa Chili





Serve with:

Tortilla Chips

Pumpkin – Gruyere Focaccia {Repost – Pictures Added}

12 Oct


I am often asked, “What is your favorite thing to make?” I hem and haw and say I can’t pick just one thing … but this Pumpkin – Gruyere Focaccia recipe may be it. I originally posted the recipe, without pictures, in March, but now that we are in full-pumpkin-season-swing, I made a batch this week and wanted to post the pictures. I thought I would also repost the original entry from March here, in case you missed it then or just were not in pumpkin mode. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Gruyere Focaccia-1

This recipe is a Cooking Club Classic (Hostess: TK; Theme: Pumpkin; Date: 10.15.06). I look forward to each fall, when I buy a sugar pumpkin or two, and prepare pumpkin puree to have on hand and bake a few dishes. Although the recipe is titled “focaccia,” it is not at all like a traditional focaccia with herbs and tomatoes and fingerprint indentations. I would describe it more as a sweet bread, and the gruyère adds a savory tang. This bread gets rave reviews and friends often ask me for my secret.

It is so satisfying to make bread from scratch – give it a try!

Pumpkin Gruyere Focaccia-3


– 3/4 c warm water (100° to 110° – I measure temp with a standard meat thermometer)
– 1/3 c brown sugar (measure when packed)
– 1 package dry yeast (about 2 + 1/4 tsp)
– 3 + 1/2 c flour, divided
– 3 T butter, melted
– 1 c pumpkin puree*
– 1 t salt
– 1/4 t ground nutmeg
– 3/4 c grated gruyère cheese (or more)
– cooking spray
– 1 t cornmeal

How do I make it?

  • Combine water, brown sugar, and yeast in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes. Add 1 cup flour and the melted butter to yeast mixture; stir just until combined. Cover and let rise in a warm place**, free from drafts, for 30 minutes.
  • Add pumpkin, salt, and nutmeg to flour mixture; stir until well combined. Add 2 1/4 cups flour and half of cheese; stir until a soft dough forms. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead until smooth and elastic (about 8 minutes), or mix in stand mixer with dough hook for a few minutes; add enough of remaining 1/4 cup flour, 1 Tablespoon at a time, to prevent dough from sticking (dough will feel just a little tacky).
  • Place dough in a large bowl coated with cooking spray, and spray the top of the dough as well. Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in size. Punch dough down; cover and let rest 5 minutes. Divide dough in half; shape each half into an 8-inch circle. You can also make smaller loaves, or dinner roll size portions. Place dough circles on a baking sheet sprinkled with cornmeal. Sprinkle remaining cheese evenly over dough circles and press lightly to adhere. Lightly coat dough circles with cooking spray; cover and let rise 20 minutes (dough will not double in size). Don’t put it back in the oven for this last 20 minutes.
  • While the dough is resting, preheat oven to 400°.
  • Uncover dough; bake at 400° for 30 minutes or until loaves are browned on the bottom and cheese melts (loosely place foil over the loaves to prevent overbrowning, if necessary). Cool on a wire rack.

* To make my own pumpkin puree, I cut a sugar pumpkin (the small ones) into chunks. I remove the seeds, and place it flesh-side up on a plate, cover with plastic wrap, and microwave for 8-10 minutes. The skin will remove easily, and the flesh will puree nicely in a food processor (I add a little water while pureeing if it seems too thick). {Also see this recent post on How to Make Pumpkin Puree}

** To create this magical place to let the bread rise, I set a rack on the lowest track in the oven – which is OFF. I set a glass baking dish on the rack, and pour a kettle full of boiling water into the dish. It is pretty fool-proof: the steam helps the dough rise and I do not worry about drafts.

Original link: http://www.cookinglight.com/food/top-rated-recipes/best-pumpkin-recipes-00400000058808/page6.html

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes

8 Oct

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-3

When I open my refrigerator on a lazy weekend morning (or any morning during this federal government shutdown!) and see healthy ingredients left over from the week’s meals, I pat myself on the back and pretend I planned the whole thing. Then I usually scramble up whatever is there, with a few eggs. Pretty good, but I wouldn’t mind a little sparkle now and then.

This recipe for Quinoa Breakfast Cakes gives those healthy ingredients some purpose. Try it first with the ingredients and ratios as set forth here, and then try to mix it up just a bit, substituting a different herb for the basil, sweet potato for the white potato, or Gruyere for the Parmigiano Reggiano.

If you make a whole batch on the weekend, they will last for a few days into the week – just reheat them in a pan or in the microwave, and enjoy the cakes on their own – definitely a healthy breakfast in their own right – or with some scrambled eggs and salsa. Before your coffee is done brewing, you are on your way to THIS:

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-6

Pretty good-lookin’ weekday breakfast, right?

p.s. I won’t tell a soul if you also eat these for lunch or dinner. Or snack.

– 1 medium sweet onion, diced
– 2 c minced portobello or cremini mushrooms
– 1 c baby spinach, chopped
– 2 c cooked quinoa
– 1.5 baking potatoes, skins removed, chopped, boiled, and mashed (or use 3/4 c leftover mashed potatoes)
– 1 egg, lightly beaten
– 1/4 c Parmigiano Reggiano
– 10 leaves basil, chopped
– 1/4 t red pepper flakes
– 1/4 t freshly ground black pepper

How do I make it?

  • Heat a medium or large skillet over medium-high heat. When the pan is warm, add extra virgin olive oil. When the oil is heated, add the onion and saute they start to brown and are softened.
  • Add the mushrooms and spinach, and cook 2-3 minutes more, until the mushrooms are tender and the spinach is bright.
  • Transfer the onions, mushrooms, and spinach to a large bowl, add the remaining ingredients, and stir to evenly distribute.
  • Form into patties (this recipe will make about 12, give or take). Make sure the patties aren’t too thick, or else the egg won’t cook through (1/2″ – 3/4″ thick should be great).
  • Wipe out the skillet, and re-heat over medium-high heat. When warm, spray with olive oil and place 4 patties in the pan. After about 5 minutes, check the bottom of one of the patties. If it is browning, flip it, and repeat with the others in the pan. Lower the heat to medium and cook for another 5 minutes.
  • Continue with this process until you have cooked the entire batch.

Quinoa Breakfast Cakes-4

Original recipe: Adapted from December 2012 Women’s Health Magazine, “Eat Smart: Quinoa Meatballs”

If you like this, you may also like:

Quinoa Casserole 1  Food_023_

How to: Make Pumpkin Puree

29 Sep

Pumpkin Puree-8

The changing of the seasons from Summer to Fall is more than breathing the crispness in the air, pulling out sweaters and boots from the back of the closet, and paging through pictures of friends’ kids on Facebook dressed like small animals. Although I do love all of those things!

I also love the first sugar pumpkin of the season. Slicing off the top, chopping it in to pieces, roasting the seeds, and pureeing the flesh and baking away. Pumpkin recipes abound in this season, and I try to keep a bowl of pumpkin puree in the fridge so I am always ready to try something new or make a trusted favorite.

Here is how to do it in under 15 minutes! Start with a sugar pumpkin. Sugar pumpkins are also called pie pumpkins, and they are much more manageable than the jack-o-lantern sized. A regular knife will make short work of a sugar pumpkin – they are about 6-9″ in diameter.

Sugar Pumpkin-1

Slice off the top of the pumpkin using a chef’s or santuko knife, and discard the stem. Chop the rest of the pumpkin in to chunks – size is not important. I find it easiest to work with the pumpkin when the pieces are not very round – it makes it easier to slice out the pulp and seeds. I use a serrated knife for that task. {You can separate the seeds from the pulp and save the seeds to roast!}

Sugar Pumpkin Pieces-8

Sugar Pumpkin Pieces-7

Place the chunks of pumpkin on a microwave-safe plate, skin side down and flesh side up. Cover with saran wrap and microwave for 8 minutes, or until the flesh is soft. Be careful when removing the saran wrap – it will be steamy under there!

When it is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh off of the skin into a food processor using a spoon. Add a few Tablespoons of water, and process until smooth. That’s it! It should keep in the fridge for a week or two, or in the freezer for a few months. One sugar pumpkin will make approximately 1.5 c of puree.

Pumpkin Puree-1

If you like this, you may also like:

Pumpkin Curry with Shrimp-47 Cup Food ProcessorRicotta Cheese_015_