Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Roasted Chicken and Butternut Soup

My youngest took one look at this soup and said, "Oh, Mommy, I can't like that." Well, she had to try it anyway...and quickly ate her way through the bowl. This soup was just a tad bit sweet which was a little surprising, but not too much. I think the sweetness is due to the ground coriander. This soup was really amazing and I love the bright orange color that the squash brings to the soup.

4 chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on
1 medium butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and diced
1 small yellow onion, diced
2 Tbsp olive oil
coarse salt and pepper
4c chicken broth
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp of lemon juice

In a roasting pan, toss together chicken thighs, squash, and onion. Drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Arrange the ingredients in a single layer on pan. Roast in oven at 425˚F for 30 minutes. Transfer chicken to a plate and allow to cool. Transfer squash and onions to a medium pot and add chicken broth and spices. Bring to a simmer over med-high heat. With a potato masher, mash some of the vegetables until soup is thick and chunky. Discard skin and bones from the chicken and cut meat into small pieces. Add to soup. Stir in 1 to 2 Tbsp of lemon juice. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Before serving, garnish with cilantro.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sweet and Sour Stir-Fry

Our family loves Chinese food. We are especially fans of Sweet and Sour chicken. Except I don't really like the breaded chicken and sometimes I just don't feel like that thick, goopy sauce. This recipe is a nice alternative and it has far fewer calories. The fresh ginger really adds a complexity to the flavor that I like.


1c long grain white rice
1 Tbsp cornstarch
1/4c sugar
1/4c vinegar
1/4c soy sauce
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 1/4 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 1 inch cubes
2 bell peppers (red, green), seeded and diced
1/2 lb green beans, trimmed and halved
1 carrot, sliced at an angle
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and minced
3 garlic cloves, minced or pressed

Cook rice in rice cooker. In a small jar, combine cornstarch, sugar, soy sauce, and vinegar. Put lid on jar and shake. Set aside. In a large skillet or wok, heat oil. Add chicken and cook, stirring frequently until chicken is almost done. Add vegetables and cook for 5 minutes. Add ginger and garlic, stirring frequently for about 4 more minutes. Shake soy sauce mixture, add to skillet. Cook, stirring frequently, until sauce thickens (about 3 minutes). Remove from heat. Fluff rice with fork. To serve, spoon chicken stir-fry over rice.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Simple Crêpes

These are treats we'd buy the kids at German festivals for about 4 Euro ($5.30) apiece. I'm not sure if they are European in origin, but to our family they will always be a European treat. One batch made enough to feed four ravenous kids (about 10 crêpes) so next time I will have to double the batch so the adults can have some, too.

In a blender, Purée:

1 cup flour
1 Tbsp sugar
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2c milk
4 eggs
3 Tbsp butter, melted

Let batter sit at least 15 minutes at room temperature. (You can also refrigerate for up to 1 day, just whisk before using). Pam a 12-inch skillet. Pour 1/3 cup of batter into the skillet. Swirl skillet to completely cover the skillet. This is going to look too thin, but remember, this is a crêpe, not a pancake. Cook over medium heat until the underside of the crêpe is golden brown...about 1 1/2-2 minutes. Loosen the edge of the crêpe with a spatula, and then flip the crêpe quickly with your fingertips. Cook for 1 minute and move to a plate. Repeat with the remaining batter, spraying the pan with PAM between crêpes.

The kids really enjoyed these crêpes with Nutella and bananas. In fact, one of the little food critics sleeping over (whose Dad makes the best crêpes, EVER) says that mine were "really good!” I always consider it the highest of compliments when other people's children will eat what I cook.

If Nutella is not your thing (For example, if you are over the age of 15) you can also fill these crêpes with ham and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, powdered sugar, strawberry jam and whipped cream...or anything else left over in your fridge.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Black Bean Soup

I'm beginning to understand why magazines tote reduced calorie recipes in January. My jeans are protesting against a comment I made in December about hating low-cal recipes. So I'm eating my words. I still hate food that tastes like card board, but every recipe box should include some recipes that fill you up without filling out your jeans.

This black bean soup recipe has a little burst of flavor. I think it's the jalapenos. Although the feta cheese that you sprinkle on top bring a little salty combination that really compliments the soup. This soup is so delicious. My husband, who doesn't like beans of any kind, accused me of being selfish because I made this soup, packaged it up in individual servings, and didn't share with him. Maybe I'll share this batch.
1 onion, chopped
1 carrot, shredded
4 cloves garlic, pressed
2 tsp ground cumin
1/2 jalapeno pepper, chopped into tiny pieces
2 (15oz) can black beans, undrained
1 (15oz) petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2c chicken broth

For garish
fresh cilantro, chopped
green onion, chopped
feta cheese

Spray Pam into your skillet. Sauté onions and garlic and transfer to your Crockpot. Add shredded carrot, cumin, jalapenos, beans, tomatoes, and chicken broth to the Crockpot. Cook on low all day. Sometime in the afternoon, transfer half the soup to the blender and puree. Pour back into the Crockpot and mix. Garnish with cilantro, green onions, and feta cheese.

If you don't have a crockpot: Pam the bottom of your pot. Add onion, carrot, and garlic. Saute until softened. Mix in cumin and jalapeno. Add beans, tomatoes, and broth. Bring to a boil and simmer for 15-20 minutes. Puree 1/2 of the soup and return to pot. Mix well. Garnish each bowl with cilantro, green onion, and feta cheese.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Split Pea Soup

I spent my whole childhood hating Split Pea Soup. I don't know why. I don't remember ever having tried Split Pea Soup. I think it the color of the soup that was so off putting for me. When I was in college, I worked with a woman who taught me a lot about the kind of woman and wife I wanted to be (when I grew up). She also shared a few recipes with me. I've since lost touch with her, but I think of her whenever I cook the foods she taught me to cook.

12c water if cooking stovetop, 8c water if using a crockpot
2c split peas, rinsed
3 stalks of celery, sliced
1 carrot, grated
Butt portion or ham hock (This time I used the bone from my Christmas Ham with whatever meat was still attached.)
1 tsp sugar
2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp white pepper

Stove top: Toss all the ingredients into a pot. Simmer for four or five hours or until peas are mushy. You will use more water if cooking stovetop because some water boils off as the soup simmers. Stir occationally, adding additional water if necessary. Remove the ham bone before serving.

Crockpot: Toss all the ingredients into your crock pot and cook on low all day long. I usually stir it up every few hours, but it's really not necessary. Remove the hambone before serving.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

White Chili

I had the most amazing white chili at a baby shower a few months ago. I've been looking for a good recipe ever since. Now that I think about it, I should have asked for the recipe, but I didn't know the hostess very well and sometimes people get really offended when asked to share their recipes. Not me. I'll share 'em with the world.

I took a few White Chili Recipes and blended them. I think that means I'm becoming an experienced cook. It could also mean that my children have learned to suffer in silence. I think it's the combination of green chilies and cilantro that make this chili so yummy.

1 onion, chopped
3 celery stalks, sliced thinly
4 cups chicken, cubed or shredded
4 cups water with 3 chicken bouillon cubes added
4 cans green chili peppers, chopped
2 cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp oregano
1/4 cup cilantro, chopped (I used fresh)

For garnish
Monterey Jack cheese, shredded
green onion, sliced

There are two ways to cook this recipe. The first is to sauté the onions in Pam, then toss all the ingredients into your Crockpot and cook slowly all day long. If you don't have a Crockpot:

In a large saucepan over medium heat, sauté the onions and celery. Cook until onion is translucent. Add chicken, beans, chicken broth, green chilies into the pot. Season with cumin, oregano, and cilantro. Cover and simmer for 15 or 20 minutes.

Whichever way you cook it, garnish with shredded cheese and green onions. I also tossed in a few more cilantro leaves as garnish because I really like cilantro.