Thursday, January 1, 2015

Thai Chicken Vegetable Soup

I made this soup a few months ago and it was amazing!  It's incredibly easy and quick to make thanks to using Swanson broth.  It's good when it's first made, but is even better warmed up.

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 medium carrot, peeled and cut into 2" matchstick-thin strips
1 medium red pepper, cut into 2" matchstick-think strips
1 cup sliced mushrooms (shitake, oyster, cremini), optional
1 carton (32 oz) Swanson Thai Ginger Flavor Infused Broth
2 cups shredded cooked chicken
1 can (about 14 oz) unsweetened coconut milk
2 tablespoons lime juice
2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro leaves

1.  Heat the oil in a 4-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add carrot and pepper, cook for 5 minutes or until tender-crisp.  Stir in mushrooms, if using.

2.  Add broth to saucepan and heat to a boil.  Reduce heat to medium-low.  Stir in chicken, cook 5 minutes or until chicken is hot.

3.  Stir in coconut milk and cook until mixture is hot and bubbling.  Stir in lime juice and cilantro.

Serves 5 (about 1 1/2 cups per serving)

New Year 2015

I've already spent my first morning of 2015 in the kitchen!  No complaints from me!  I have already made my first pot of soup.  Nothing gourmet, mind you!  I simply had some chicken broth from a chicken done in the slow cooker and then some base left over from last night when I made cabbage and kielbasa.  I also had a few vegetables I wanted to use and some quinoa that just needed to be used up.  Not only do I now have lunch for today, but I also have lunch for next week at work.  Since I'll start visiting the ducks at the park for lunch each afternoon this is very handy.  I've missed my ducks and can't wait to start seeing them again!

As for 2015 kitchen goals...

I want to keep trying new recipes.  I want to get better about trying at least two a month, but would prefer to try four a month.  But we'll see.  It seems like I get so busy thoughout the year and I never meet this goal.  We'll see how it goes this year.

I also want to continue to eat as much organic as I can.  I know some don't believe eating organic really makes any difference, but I do know I feel much better when I do. 

This year I plan to finally buy my rice maker.  I just have to find a place to store it!  And I'm going to be purchasing more bento boxes from my wish list.  I think I'm looking forward to the bento boxes the most!

I hope you're year in the kitchen is tasty and fun with lots of new adventures!

Sunday, November 30, 2014

Chicken Stir Fry

My son and I had this for dinner tonight and we really liked it.  I was super pleased with the way it cooked up.  It is very easy to prepare and quite tasty.  And I'll admit, I was trying to finish up laundry so instead of stir frying the veggies properly, I stirred them long enough to coat them with the sesame oil to give them the proper taste and then threw a small amount of water in the pan and put the lid on and let them steam a bit while I took care of the laundry.  Maybe it's cheating, but when you're the only one doing every bit of the housework for two humans and four animals, shortcuts become a way of life.

2 cups white rice
4 cups water
2/3 cups soy sauce (I used reduced sodium soy sauce, but either works fine.)
¼ cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch (If you don’t have cornstarch, 2 tablespoons flour will work.)
1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger (If you don’t have fresh ginger, ¼ teaspoon ground ginger will work.)
1 tablespoon minced garlic
¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes
3 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves, thinly sliced
2 tablespoon sesame oil, divided
1 green bell pepper, cut into matchsticks
1 can (8oz) sliced water chestnuts, drained
1 head broccoli, cut into florets (If you don’t have fresh, 3 ½ cups frozen florets will work.)
1 cup sliced carrots
1 onion, cut into large chunks

1. Prepare rice according to package directions. I like to put a bit of sesame oil in the water.

2. Combine soy sauce, brown sugar, and cornstarch in a small bowl; stir or whisk until smooth. Mix ginger, garlic, and red pepper into sauce; coat chicken with marinade and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

3. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir bell pepper, water chestnuts, broccoli, carrots, and onion until just tender, about 5 minutes. Remove vegetables from skillet and keep warm.

4. Remove chicken from marinade, reserving liquid. Heat 1 tablespoon sesame oil in skillet over medium-high heat. Cook and stir chicken until slightly pink on the inside, about 2 minutes per side; return vegetables and reserved marinade to skillet. Bring to a boil; cook and stir until chicken is no longer pink in the middle and vegetables are tender, 5-7 minutes. Serve over rice.

**Try adding bean sprouts, bamboo shoots, snap peas or any other of your favorite veggies. You can also serve over noodles.**

Serves 6

Friday, November 28, 2014

Thanksgiving 2014

I've gotten several questions this year asking what we serve at Thanksgiving and asking for the recipes.  Ours is not a traditional Thanksgiving meal, but it does have a few traditional dishes.  And it's very good.  At least we think so! 

2014 Thanksgiving Menu

Chicken (As a family, we do NOT like turkey.  So as a family we decided we wanted a heavy hen for
   dinner.  My mom roasted it and it was very good, of course.)
Hog Maw (This is our preferred holiday meat.  I made this.)
Gravy (Of course my mom made this using some of the pan juices from the chicken.)
Mashed Potatoes (My son requested these and I made these.)
Green Bean Casserole (My son requested this and I made it.)
Sweet Potato Casserole (My son requested this and I made it.)
Collard Greens (I love these and so does my mom.  My son and dad do too, but not as much.  I made
Steamed Pole Beans (My mom thought perhaps we needed a "normal" vegetable on the table.  I made
Fried Cabbage (I had cabbage leftover from the maw so decided to fry it up.)
Cranberry Sauce (My mom requested this and I made it.)
Cole Slaw (My dad requested this and my mom made it.  Her's is perfect and I can't duplicate it.)
Deviled Eggs and Hard Boiled Eggs (I wanted the deviled eggs.  My mom made them because I can't
   duplicate her perfect deviled eggs.)
Stuffing and Dressing (My mom made this.)
Cornbread (My mom made this.)
Biscuits (My mom made these.)
Pineapple Upside Down Cake (This is my son's favorite so my mom made it.)
Homemade Pink Lemonade (My mom made this.)

And this was only for four people.  Needless to say we have a ton of leftovers.  We've eaten some of the leftovers today, but I fear I'll be eating leftovers for the rest of my life!  And then comes Christmas.  My son has already requested a ham so I'm on the quest for the perfect ham now.

In the coming days I'll post recipes for the individual dishes.  As I post the recipes I'll come back here and add a link directly to the recipe.  I won't post recipes for my mom's dishes (I don't know them).

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Buffalo Shrimp Salad

My son was going through some recipe cards I had laying on the table and picked this out as something that he wanted to try "right away".  Although instead of a salad like the original recipe called for, he wanted his in a wrap.  Really there is no difference.  Just take the salad and stuff a wrap with it.  Pretty easy.  This turned out really good and is something that is great to take to work for lunch too.

1 large fresh mango, coarsely chopped
1 medium avocado, coarsely chopped
1 1/2 lbs peeled/deveined shrimp (thawed), tails removed
1 tablespoon garlic herb Buffalo wing seasoning
1 bag (9-10oz) romaine lettuce
1/2 cup Caesar dressing
1/4 cup Buffalo wing sauce
1/4 cup honey

1.  Preheat oven to broil and line a baking pan with aluminum foil.

2.  Chop mango and avocado, discarding peel and seed.

3.  Arrange shrimp on pan in single layer.  Sprinkle seasoning over shrimp and broil 4-5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink and opaque.

4.  Place romaine in salad bowl.  Combine dressing, wing sauce and honey.  Drizzle 1/2 of the dressing over the lettuce and then top with shrimp,mango and avocado.  Drizzle the remaining dressing over prepared bowls and serve.

Serves 4

Monday, May 26, 2014

Mediterranean Herb Crusted Tilapia

My son really doesn't like fish all that much, but this he loved.  And I have to admit, it was truly tasty!  I had two servings myself!

1 teaspoon minced garlic (dried)
1 teaspoon marjoram leaves
¾ teaspoon ground mustard
¾ teaspoon basil leaves
¾ teaspoon oregano leaves
½ teaspoon coarse ground black pepper
6 tilapia or flounder fillets (about 1 ½ lbs)
½ teaspoon salt
1/3 cup butter, melted or olive oil
1 ½ cups chopped fresh spinach leaves
¾ cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup finely chopped red bell pepper
3 tablespoons shredded Parmesan cheese

1. Place fish on foil lined shallow baking pan. Sprinkle with salt. Mix butter and all of the spice in medium bowl. Brush fish with 1 tablespoon of the seasoned butter.

2. Stir spinach, panko, bell pepper and Parmesan cheese into remaining seasoned butter. Divide mixture evenly among fish fillets, pressing lightly so mixture adheres to top of fish.

3. Bake in preheated 400 oven 15 minutes or until fish flakes easily with a fork.

Serves 6

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Potato Soup

For some reason, I've never made potato soup.  I guess I was afraid of the roux.  I don't know.  Or maybe I thought it would be a lot of work.  Well, last weekend that all changed.  I always take soup to work for lunch and Sunday night I realized I had nothing made.  It was a little chilly so I decided I wanted potato soup.  Much to my surprise this recipe was amazingly easy and turned out to be the most delicious potato soup I've ever had.  My son loved it.  I made 8 servings and he ate 6 of those one sitting.

1 pound bacon, chopped
2 stalks celery, diced
1 onion, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
8 potatoes, peeled and cubed (I leave my skins on and it turns out just fine)
4 cups chicken stock, or enough to cover potatoes
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all purpose flour
1 cup heavy cream
Salt and pepper to taste

1.  In a Dutch oven, cook the bacon over medium heat until done.  Remove bacon from pan and set aside.  Drain off all but 1/4 cup of the bacon grease.

2.  In the bacon grease remaining in the pan, saute the celery and onion until the onion begins to turn clear.  Add the garlic, and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes.  Add the cubed potatoes, and toss to coat.  Saute for 3 to 4 minutes.  Return the bacon to the pan, and add enough chicken stock to cover the potatoes.  Cover, and simmer until potatoes are tender.

3.  In a separate pan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour.  Cook, stirring constantly, for 1 to 2 minutes.  Whisk in the heavy cream.  Bring the cream mixture to a boil, and cook, stirring constantly, until thickened.  Stir the cream mixture into the potato mixture. 

4.  Puree about 1/2 the soup, and return to the pan.

5.  Adjust seasonings to taste.

Note:  I only had about a 1/2 cup of heavy cream.  For the remaining 1/2 cup of liquid for the roux I used half and half.  My grandmother used to simply use 1 cup of whole milk and I know some people who say they use water.  I don't know about the water, but I suppose in a pinch it would do.