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Mmm… Chicken Pot Pie

DSC_7670 (1600x1060)I promised Mrs J a chicken pot pie if she would make the crusts.   Mmm… pie!DSC_7675 (1600x1060)

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Cream of Chicken Soup, Now with Recipe

Cream of Chicken Soup2

I have a pot of this simmering on the stove as I write this. I wanted to make it a second time to see if I could make the recipe a bit simpler. Really couldn’t, so I wrote it as I went, to make sure I didn’t miss a step. I really like this soup, it has a very rich flavor, like chicken and biscuits. Mmmm….

Because I have a vita-mix,  most of the soups I make start with a thick vegetable broth. It gives a great depth of flavor. It’s chocked full of nutrients and anyone who knows me well, knows I don’t eat enough vegetables, so I do what I can to up my daily veggies. But you may not want to go to that trouble, so you can substitute 4 cups of chicken broth for the vegetable broth in the recipe below.

Cream of Chicken Soup

  • 1/4 tsp rosemary
  • 1/4 tsp thyme
  • 1/4 tsp basil
  • 2 stalks celery (with leaves), rough chopped
  • 2 medium carrots, rough chopped
  • 1 cup cut green beans (I use frozen)
  • 4 cups of water
  • 2 chicken breasts (bone-in or boneless, doesn’t matter it will be shredded)

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  • 1/4 cup butter
  • 1/2 sweet onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, crushed
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 2 cups milk

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  • 1 cup diced carrots
  • 1 celery stalk, chopped
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons chopped Italian parsley

saucepan, dutch oven or large saucepan, blender

In the blender, add rough chopped carrots, celery and green beans, spices, 2 cups of water and blend until smooth. Add to dutch oven along with chicken breasts and 2 additional cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium and cover. Cook for 15-20 minutes until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken to a plate to cool. Add diced carrots, celery, salt and pepper to the liquid and cover. Cook until vegetables are tender crisp.

While the chicken is cooking, melt butter in the saucepan, add onions and garlic, and sauté until the onions are translucent. Whisk in flour and cook about 2 minutes or more. Turn the heat up to medium-high, slowly stir in milk and bring to a low boil, whisking until thickened. Reduce heat to low. Cover and let simmer, stirring occasionally.

While the vegetables are cooking, shred the chicken. The easiest way to do this is to use two forks and pull across the grain of the meat in different directions. You can then use your fingers to break apart any large pieces.

Once the vegetables are tender crisp, whisk in the white sauce and then stir in the chicken. Cook an additional 10 minutes. Serve with parsley garnish.

Makes about 6 cups.

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Dinner Menu: Pasticcio and Salata Meze

I’m planning on making a cream of chicken soup today. I wanted a rich, creamy soup and that is where I settled. I haven’t made it before, so if it turns out, I’ll post recipe and photos. If not, you’ll never know it happened. LOL.

For this week’s dinner menu, I went with a recipe that was completely out of my experience when I first tried it. Cinnamon and nutmeg in macaroni and cheese? Never!  It soon became one of my favorite recipes because the flavors are so rich, layered and exotic. Paired with an equally flavorful salad, this menu adds a little Greek to the week.

On the board tonight:

  1. Pasticcio
  2. Salata Meze
  3. Chopped Apples w/honey & walnuts over ice cream

Pasticcio

  • 7 oz dry ziti
  • 3/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 to 1 tsp salt
  • 6 oz grated parmesan/Romano mix
  • 1/8 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 1/4 cup milk
  • 2 tbsp butter, melted
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg

saucepan & skillet

8×8 glass baking dish, greased

Cook ziti according to package directions, drain well. Sauté onions, add beef and cook until beef is browned. Stir in tomatoes & salt. Layer 1/2 ziti in baking dish; add beef mixture and then 1/2 of the cheese, sprinkle cinnamon over cheese. Add remaining ziti. Beat eggs, milk & butter together. Pour over ziti mixture, top with remaining cheese. Bake at 350° for 35 minutes, until center is set. Sprinkle with nutmeg.

Salata Meze

  • 8 oz green beans
  • 2 small zucchini sliced
  • 8 oz cauliflower crowns
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp oregano, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 red onion, sliced in rings
  • 6-12 cherry tomatoes, sliced in half
  • lettuce leaves
  • 2 oz whole black olives
  • 2 oz crumbled feta cheese

saucepan & serving bowl

Add beans, cauliflower and zucchini to water in saucepan, bring to a boil. Simmer on med-low for 3-5 minutes until vegetables are tender-crisp. Rinse with ice water & drain well. Mix oil, lemon, honey & spices and toss with vegetables, including onions & tomatoes. Layer lettuce leaves in serving bowl, top with vegetable mixture. Garnish with olives and feta.

Chopped Apples w/honey & walnuts

  • 2 apples, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup honey (more as needed)
  • ¼ cup chopped walnuts
  • Dash of lemon juice

Add chopped apples, honey, lemon juice and walnuts to saucepan and heat until honey is melted and coats everything. Let simmer until apples are tender. Serve warm over ice cream.

Shopping List:

  • 7 oz ziti
  • 3/4 lb lean ground beef
  • 1 yellow onion
  • 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 6 oz fresh grated parmesan/Romano mix
  • 1 ¼ cup milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 8 oz green beans
  • 2 small zucchini
  • 8 oz cauliflower crowns
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/3 cup lemon juice
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 red onion
  • 6-12 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 small head bib lettuce
  • 2 oz whole black olives
  • 2 oz crumbled feta cheese
  • Vanilla ice cream
  • 2 apples
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup chopped walnuts

Also: cinnamon, nutmeg, butter, salt

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Hearty Turkey Soup on a Cold December Day

It’s still chilly here, though the Arctic blast has moved on. I decided to use up the leftover turkey and test out my new mandolin at the same time and make a big pot of soup for lunches this week.

When I roast a turkey, I always save the wings and legs, freezing them for soup later on.  You can also save the carcass, which I do sometimes, but really most times it seems like too much trouble.   You can also freeze leftovers, but I find dark meat works best because the white meat tends to get tough once it’s frozen, even when simmered for hours in soup.

You can add anything you want. I didn’t have beans, so I substituted whole wheat egg noodles. I cook them separately, so they don’t get too mushy and add them to the bowl and pour the soup over them.

Hearty Turkey Soup

  • Wings and Legs of turkey, cooked
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 4 carrots,  julienned (frozen ok)
  • 2 stalk of celery and celery leaves,  julienned
  • 1 cup green beans, frozen or canned
  • 6 green onions, chopped
  • 1 large potato, peeled and diced
  • 1 15 oz can Cannellini beans*
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1 tsp dried basil
  • 1 tsp dried rosemary
  • salt & pepper to taste

In a large saucepan, add turkey, broth and water.  Bring to a boil and let boil 10 minutes.  Reduce heat and add remaining ingredients.  Let simmer for 20 minutes, remove legs and wings, let cool enough to remove remaining meat (most will have fallen off).  Add meat back to soup and let simmer another 10 minutes.  Remove bay leaf and serve with Buttermilk Biscuits and Cranberry Sauce.

*Cannellini beans are large and have that traditional kidney shape. With a slightly nutty taste and mild earthiness, they have a relatively thin skin and tender, creamy flesh. They hold their shape well and are one of the best white beans for salads and ragouts.

 

Originally posted November 2011

Mmm… stuffed pork chop

DSC_7178 (1600x1060)I spotted these huge pork chops at the market the other day and I marked them for just this meal.  I looked over several different stuffing recipes and went for a simple cornbread dressing.  Sauteed onions and celery with sage and dried cranberries along with a splash of chicken stock and it was ready.  The rice is a box mix that works well for me, and the beans are the flat Italian style green beans.  Straight from the can in their own liquid with salt and pepper and a few cloves of garlic tossed in whole.

Tidbits


DSC_7100 (1600x1060)Mmm… green beans and ham.  The meat is some of the cured pork that we buy whenever we go up to the processor about an hour north of where we live.  They bag and freeze chunks that are analogous to bacon ends.  I’m not sure what their curing method is, soaking in a brine is my guess, then smoking for a spell.DSC_4256 (1600x1060)Mrs J is getting serious about wrapping up the patio container garden.  I picked most of the peppers.  The small sweet peppers are great for pickling – I have been using a simple water/vinegar/sugar pickle.  The habs and the Anaheims were frozen whole.  I noticed the jalapenos were starting to wrinkle so they got the same pickling as the little grape sized peppers.  Still to go are a bunch of cayennes, and the ornamental tri-color peppers that have proved to be hot hot hot.  Some other tri-colored peppers have no heat at all.IMG_3116 (1600x1200)They brought this long haired chihuahua to the shelter the other day.  He was found running free by the roadside with his son.  No tags or owner.  They think he’s about 8 years old.  Heartworm positive, he’ll be there a while, his son has been adopted and he is all alone.DSC_4278 (1600x1060)A neighbor called yesterday evening, telling Mrs J there was a momma cat and her kittens abandoned by the road.  She found the mom and three kittens right away.  They were hungry.  Another sweep through the same area found three more kittens.DSC_4288 (1600x1060)They all seem to be healthy.  We have them all in the back barn for now, all set up with litter boxes and bedding.DSC_7105 (1600x1060)Bookending the post with beans.  These are red beans and rice.  Kroger surprised me the other day with Andouille sausage.  I bought a ring and used it here.  Just about the perfect addition to the classic bean dish.  I tossed in a few boneless chicken thighs to keep the sausage company.

Dinner Menu: Grilled Steak with Coffee Rub

A friend of mine spent a few months one summer experimenting with coffee rubs. This was one of my favorites. If you need something fun to do with your next grilled steak, this is a recipe to try. And with my love of blueberries, can’t go wrong with a blueberry coffeecake.  Yum.

On the board tonight:

  1. Steak with Coffee Rub
  2. Green Beans w/Bacon & Onion
  3. Baked Potatoes
  4. Blueberry CoffeeCake

Steak with Coffee Rub

  • 3 tbsp chili powder (pure ancho or a blend)
  • 3 tbsp finely ground coffee (espresso works best)
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika (use a good one)
  • 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tbsp fresh ground pepper
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb of steak (rib-eye, sirloin, NY strip, etc) in 4 thick pieces

Mix together all spices. Lightly rub each steak with oil and then coat liberally on both sides with coffee rub. Now you can cook in a pre-heated skillet on medium-high heat, 5 to 7 minutes each side for medium rare. You can broil in the oven, using the second slot down from broiler, for 5 minutes each side, again for rare to medium rare, longer for medium. Or if you’re lucky (sigh) you can grill them outside. Cooking times will vary no matter which style you choose, so watch carefully and you’ll probably have to use a meat thermometer to really judge, because the rub makes it a little harder to eyeball it. Let sit for a few minutes before serving.

Green Beans w/Bacon & Onions

  • 1 lb fresh or frozen green beans (if fresh, snap off ends and snap into smaller pieces)
  • 2 strips bacon, cut into small pieces
  • 4 green onions, chopped
  • salt & pepper to taste

Sm. Saucepan, steamer and Skillet

Steam beans until slightly crisp, but tender. While beans are steaming, begin browning bacon until crisp. You can drain most of the bacon drippings, leaving 1 tbsp to lightly coat beans. Add onions. Drain beans and dab with a paper towel. Add to bacon mixture, mixing well, until beans are coated in bacon drippings. Cook on medium-low for 1 to 2 minutes, until onions are heated through.

Blueberry CoffeeCake

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tbsp cultured buttermilk powder (or 1 cup butter milk  & omit water)
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup vegetable oil
  • 8 oz frozen blueberries

Topping:

  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • ¼ cup butter, softened
  • ½ cup flour

8×8 baking dish, greased

2 bowls

In bowl, add flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, buttermilk and mix well. Make a well in the center add egg, water & oil. Stir quickly until all everything is mixed well, but don’t over mix. Fold in blueberries. Spread batter evenly in baking dish. In bowl, mix topping ingredients until crumbly. Sprinkle evenly over the top of batter. Bake at 400° for 25-30 minutes, until toothpick comes out clean.

Shopping List:

  • 3 tbsp chili powder (pure ancho or a blend)
  • 3 tbsp finely ground coffee (espresso works best)
  • 1 ½ tbsp paprika (a good one)
  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp ground coriander
  • 1 to 1-1/2 lb of steak
  • 1 lb fresh or frozen green beans
  • 2 strips bacon
  • 4 green onions
  • 4 tbsp cultured buttermilk powder or 1 cup buttermilk
  • egg
  • 8 oz blueberries

Also: brown sugar, butter, flour, vegetable oil, vanilla, salt, baking powder, sugar, fresh ground pepper

Gadget Post – Crock Pot

DSC_5639 [1600x1200]I just had to have a bigger slow cooker than the one we had.  It has given good service for more years than I wish to count but it just didn’t have room for a larger cut of meat plus the veggies and everything.  This one by Hamilton Beach had tons of reviews at Amazon and looked like a winner to me.DSC_5637 [1600x1200]You can set it for a certain cooking time or for a desired temperature (via a probe), or just “cook until I stop you” with two cooking temperatures – high or low, (plus a “warm” setting).  I managed to figure out the controls, without going to the instruction booklet, after a few starts and stops and much button poking.DSC_5638 [1600x1200]I’m not too sure how well the probe will work out.  I has to be inserted through the lid and into the meat and the exact placement and depth may not be ideal in real world cooking.  I have a remote thermometer that I think will thread through the hole but will only beep at me when temps are reached.  The included probe plugs into the heating circuit and will switch the pot to warm when it reaches set point.  (I think – still haven’t read the booklet.)DSC_5631 [1600x1200]This is the first run.  A fair sized beef roast with most of a bottle of red wine and some beef broth.  I coarsely chopped a large yellow onion and tossed that in with a few carrots and stalks of celery as aromatics with six or eight cloves of garlic.  Salt and pepper and the usual mix of dried herbs: Bay leaves, thyme, marjoram, rosemary, and oregano.  Two large whole potatoes went in there as well, the green beans were in another pan.  All the liquids were strained and reduced for gravy, adding to it some sauteed mushrooms.  I discarded the carrots and celery, using some of the onion and garlic for the beans along with a few pieces of ham.

Mmm… green beans with potatoes and ham

DSC_4485 [1600x1200]Nothing special about these, but I do want to mention the cornbread.  I used buttermilk in this recipe, and lard instead of butter or oil.  Best cornbread evah!  There are three green onions chopped up in the batter and I can recommend those.  No cheese or jalapenos this time.  The recipe from the back of the Quaker brand corn meal box (with my changes):

1 1/4 c all-purpose flour
3/4 c Quaker Corn Meal
1/4 c sugar
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)
1 c skim milk buttermilk
1/4 c vegetable oil lard
2 egg whites or 1 whole egg [I use the whole egg]

Here’s another doggie:

IMG_0626 [1600x1200]

Mrs J says this one is a local stray and they believe they have located the owner.  Good looking dog, but why no collar?  Bad dog daddy, bad!

Fingerling Potatoes

Mrs J spotted these fingerling potatoes at that new produce store we “discovered” last week.  We hit them on a week day and there wasn’t quite the array of veggies as they had displayed the last time we were in there, on the weekend, but they still had a better selection than any of the local supermarkets.  Green beans and smocked hocks are a staple around these parts, we both grew up eating these and I don’t want to hear that the beans are over cooked.  Nonsense.  The last snap I want to hear from these beans is the sound they make when I break them into pieces for the pot.

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