Monday, January 26, 2015

Peppery Chicken Noodle Soup

As you know, a couple of weeks ago I made my first rotisserie chicken. Since it's just my husband and me, we obviously had leftover chicken to use up. I deboned it and threw the meat in the freezer until I decided what to do with it. We settled on making a homemade chicken soup. I was looking at recipes for Sicilian Chicken Soup which looked delicious so we decided to make a version similar to that.

I'm not sure what technically classifies a soup as "Sicilian Chicken Soup" so we decided to call our version something else. We chose Peppery Chicken Noodle Soup because that is exactly what it is. This is a very flavorful soup with peppery broth that is chock full of veggies, shredded chicken, and hearty pasta. It's pretty amazing.

My hubby (who isn't even a big fan of soup) ate 2 big bowls, told me it was "nummy", and suggested I send the recipe to his Mom. For me, that is the ultimate compliment!

I should mention, however, that I am not very good at making meals for just the two of us. Somewhere in my brain, I'm still programmed to make meals for a big family growing up. This recipe filled my dutch oven! So if you don't want a full pot of soup, just go ahead and cut the recipe down. I'll eventually find the switch to reprogram my crazy brain to make meals for just 2 people, but for now...we eat a lot of leftovers. :)

Like my husband said, this is such a hearty soup that you could easily nix the chicken and it would be a very filling vegetable noodle soup. Also, if you aren't a big fan of peppery things, just cut back on the amount of pepper you add. It will still taste delicious. I promise. :)


Peppery Chicken Noodle Soup
{Since we had so much leftover, we realized that next time we won't add all the pasta at once. After a couple days, the pasta soaked up most of the broth and got a little soggy. So, if you're making this in hopes of having leftovers, I would suggest only adding the pasta to the soup you are serving at the moment.}

Ingredients

2 Tbsp. olive oil
8 garlic cloves, minced
1 red onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, seeded and diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 celery stalks, diced
6 small potatoes (about 2-3 cups), diced
1 can (14.5 oz.) diced tomatoes
32 oz. chicken stock
32 oz. vegetable stock
3 c. chicken, cooked & shredded
16 oz. rigatoni pasta
salt & pepper
parsley (fresh or dried)


Directions

Heat a large dutch oven or stock pot on med-hi heat. 
Add the olive oil and garlic and saute until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).
Add the onion, bell pepper, carrots, celery, and potatoes.
Add a little salt, and generous seasoning of pepper and parsley.
Saute for 15 minutes or until onion is becoming translucent.
Add the chicken, diced tomatoes, and stocks.
Season again with lots of pepper and parsley.
Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes, or until carrots and potatoes are tender.
While the soup is simmering, cook pasta according to package directions.
Once soup is ready, stir in the cooked pasta.


Heat a large dutch oven or stock pot on med-hi heat. 
Add the olive oil and garlic and saute until fragrant (about 1-2 minutes).
Add the onion, bell pepper, carrots, celery, and potatoes.
Add a little salt, and generous seasoning of pepper and parsley.


Saute for 15 minutes or until onion is becoming translucent.
Add the chicken, diced tomatoes, and stocks.


Season again with lots of pepper and parsley.


Bring to a boil, then turn down and simmer for 20 minutes, or until carrots and potatoes are tender.


 While the soup is simmering, cook pasta according to package directions.


Once soup is ready, stir in the cooked pasta.






Friday, January 23, 2015

Paprika Chicken & Spinach with White Wine Butter Sauce

   

I felt like I totally stepped out of a movie while I was preparing this meal. Bare feet, sipping wine, apron, a little Sinatra in the background--you know...like the adorable scene in the old Parent Trap (minus the Sinatra ;).  I did not, however, prepare veal parmesan. Also, my man, although just as adorable as Brian Keith, was not present until the meal was completely ready. Nonetheless, I still felt like it was out of a movie.  I can sometimes romanticize the most basic things.  Today, it is preparing a simple meal, but it put a smile on my face while it was happening. 

So take off you shoes, sip some wine, and prepare a "sophisticated" meal for that family you love.  Or...for yourself.  Everyone wants to be an actor at sometime in their life.  Maybe 5:00 tonight is that time!

Now, I shall go watch a classic. 

Paprika Chicken & Spinach with
White Wine Butter Sauce

2 large chicken breasts
3 large garlic cloves, chopped
2 large handfuls of spinach
1/4 cup fresh thyme
1 tsp. paprika
salt and pepper
5 T. butter
Pinot Grigio or dry white wine    


1.  Gather all your ingredients. 



2.  Mix your paprika and a little salt and pepper.  Remember, you will be adding more salt and pepper later. 


3.  Chop your garlic. Set aside. 


4. Rub the spice mixture on both sides of chicken. 


5.  In a large saucepan, melt 1 T. butter on medium/high heat. 


6.  Cook the first side for about 3 minutes or until a nice crisp is present.


7.  Turn heat down to medium. Flip and cook other side for the same amount of time. 


8.  Add remaining butter. 


9. Then thyme. 


10. And garlic. Cook for about 2 minutes, stirring the butter, garlic, and thyme. 


11. Add wine. 


12. Bring wine to gentle simmer.  (Not displayed well here ;) Cook for about 20 minutes.  Sauce will reduce, so feel free to add a little more wine as necessary. 


13.  Load with spinach.  The recipe calls for 2 cups;however, I decided next time I will use more as it wilts to so little and we loved the spinach. 


14. After spinach is done, season with salt and pepper. Double check to make sure the chicken is fully cooked.  


15.  Serve with a grain of your choice and another veggie if wanted. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Cloud Dough

My sister told us about this, so she helped us make it. It's FUN doing things with our sister! I wish all our sisters still lived with us. I have SIX sisters! All of them love to do all kinds of things. I will tell you one thing about each of them.

Sarah: takes care of her kids
Tricia: cooks 
Renae: does crafts  
Laura: cooks when she's in the mood  
Lucy: babysits 
Clara: plays with baby dolls


INGREDIENTS:
Corn Starch
Food coloring
Conditioner

TOOLS:

Small mixing bowl
spoon

1. Put conditioner and food coloring in bowl and mix.

2. Put some corn starch in, mix until the way you what it to feel.

Hint: If you put yellow in blue conditioner you get green.


HAVE FUN!!!




Saturday, January 17, 2015

Rotisserie Chicken Dry Rub

A few years ago my husband and I received a toaster oven from my parents for Christmas. We had been wanting one for awhile and we were super excited to get it! It's gone through a lot of use over the years. However, the rotisserie attachments were still brand new. After all this time, I decided to finally try them out last week.

When I think of rotisserie chickens, I think of my Grandpa. My Dad's father had to learn how to cook after Grandma passed away. He did. And he was good at it. He made soup, bread, awesome chocolate chip cookies... (I think that's where my Dad gets his cookie baking skills. It's in the genes...) Grandpa used to sit and watch his cookie dough bake, then when they were baked perfectly, he would pull them out and place the chocolate chips in just the right spots.

He definitely took pride in what he made and it was adorable. I remember being at his house one day and he was sitting at the kitchen table staring at the wall. At least that is what it looked like at first glance. When I came fully into the room I realized that he was looking at his rotisserie oven. But he wasn't just checking on it. We was actually watching it cook. The whole time it cooked. I'm not sure if he was just bored or if baking and cooking just fascinated him enough to take the time to actually watch his concoctions from start to finish. But it also made everything he created that much more special. He was proud of it. And he always wanted to share what he made. You couldn't visit Grandpa without him offering you some sort of treat or homemade ham soup he just finished making. Even to this day I think of him whenever I see recipes for ham soup and rotisserie chickens. It makes me miss him even more.


I was a little bit wary of making a full rotisserie chicken. I didn't know if it was going to take a long time, if it would be dry, or just be way more work than I wanted. But I'm so glad I tried it!
I whipped up this dry rub, let it rest overnight, then popped it in the rotisserie when I got home from work. It was done in an hour and a half and was perfect. Super easy!

Now I don't have a lot of pictures for this one because full birds weird me out a bit. Not so much when they are fully cooked, but when they are raw...let's just say the less I need to handle it the better. Looking at the directions on the label that came with the chicken, it said to remove the giblets and rinse it in cold water. I did that and then patted it dry with paper towels. Once I mixed up the dry rub, I rubbed it all over the bird, inside and out! Then you quarter up your onion and stuff it in the cavity. I didn't have kitchen string so I just used dental floss to tie the legs and wings together. Then I sealed it in a gallon ziploc bag and refrigerated it for about 20 hours before cooking it.

According to the directions, it said to cook it at 350 degrees for 20 minutes per pound. (You want the internal temperature to be 180 degrees and all the juices to run clear.) That is what I did and it worked perfectly. We served it with roasted broccoli & cauliflower and brown rice for dinner, then deboned it and froze the remaining meat to use in my Peppery Chicken Noodle Soup later on in the week.


Ingredients

4.5-5 lb. chicken
2 tsp. garlic powder
2 tsp. paprika
1 tsp. Cajun seasoning
1/2 tsp. ground oregano
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1 tsp. sea salt
1 onion, quartered
cooking string


Directions

Remove giblets and rinse chicken in cold water.
Dry well with paper towels.
Combine the seasonings in a small bowl.
Rub all over the chicken, inside and out (even under the skin).
Place quartered onion inside the cavity of the chicken.
Using the string, tie the legs together, then the wings.
Place in a gallon Ziploc bag and refrigerate at least 12-24 hours.
Preheat rotisserie oven to 350 degrees.
Bake for approximately 1 1/2 hours (about 20 minutes per pound) or until thermometer reads 180 degrees and juices run clear.
Let rest 10 minutes (breast side down) before slicing.






Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Spinach & Mozzarella Stuffed Pork Tenderloin



In preparing our weekly menu (which we have stuck to for...wait for it...a week and a half!!!), a recipe I ran across was this Spinach & Mozzarella Stuffed Pork Tenderloin.  I was very happy with the way it turned out.  It was really moist (don't cringe when reading that word-  I know how some people hate it ;), had good flavor, and was extremely easy to prepare.  In order to achieve week 2 status of our menu planning, ease is a necessity.  Coming home from work, if it would take a lot, I would just revert back to my chips and hummus or canned soup.  Although, canned soup is great on those really quick nights.  (Just don't read the label- sodium--oh my!)  So for a quick meal, that looks like you spent a whole lot more time than you did, try this one.

Ingredients
3 garlic cloves
2 T. lemon juice
2 tsp. dijon mustard
1 tsp. olive oil

1 pound pork tenderloin

1 1/2 oz. fresh mozzarella
2 c. fresh spinach
2 T. sundried tomatoes

salt and pepper.

To start: Preheat your oven to 425 degrees.  


 1.  Gather all your ingredients. 


 2. Prepare your garlic by removing skin. Chop. We left ours a little coarse, as we love garlic.


 3.  Squeeze, or cheat with above kitchen tool, your fresh lemon. 


4. In a bowl, start will the lemon juice.  Add chopped garlic. 


5. Next add dijon mustard. 


6.  Now olive oil. 


7. Stir well.


8.  Thinly slice mozzarella. Set aside. 


9. Measure you spinach. Set aside. 


10.  Now the sun dried tomato.


 11. Next is the meat.  Butterfly (to the best of your ability) tenderloin.  


 12. Put a light coat of olive oil in your roaster so it's ready to go. 


13. Grab a sheet of plastic wrap and lay it on the counter.  Place tenderloin on top.  Top with 1/2 of the lemon mixture. Spread evening. 


 14.  First, layer the mozzarella.


 15.  Followed by the spinach. 


16. Next is the sun dried tomato.


17.  Add a little more salt and pepper.  Lightly press down.


18. Using the plastic wrap to help, roll your tenderloin. Here, you are supposed to tie string every 2 inches or so.  I could not for the life of me locate this at our local stores so I had to make due without.  It still held up nicely. 


 19.  Carefully place meat in your greased pan. 


 20.  Drizzle remaining lemon mixture. 


 21.  Add a little more salt and pepper. 


 22.  Bake at 425 degrees for approximately 25-35 minutes or until 160 degrees.  I usually like to cook meat to death, but I did follow the recipe for this one.  As mentioned, it was very tender.  I will definitely be following recipes more often.

Once it reaches 160 degrees, remove and let sit for 10 minutes.  Makes 8 servings. We had our oven roasted green beans which paired nicely. 


 And that's it!!  An easy week night meal that we will be making again---for sure.