Monday, April 30, 2018

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

My love affair with soup has been well documented on this blog. My love affair with chicken wild rice soup started the summer after I graduated HS and would call Einsteins Brother's every Friday to see if their version was being served that day.

I have a good friend that owns a catering business and my kids constantly BEGGED me to get some of her Turkey Wild Rice soup - which isn't always available - but I would stock up when I could. So - our expectations were extremely high.

I've made different recipes over the last few months and asked for comments from the peanut gallery. Mr 15 said it needed more long grains and wild rice. Mr V said more chicken. Girls said more veg. I thought it needed to be just a touch creamier.

I FINALLY perfected Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup. I'm super stoked about it!

As usual - when I make soup I make an absolute ton. Great for freezing and/or sharing. I did both. Shared with a sick neighbor and put 2 quarts in the freezer. It's what I call a "bonus" dinner - same amount of work/time but 3 or 4 dinners out of it! So awesome especially during this crazy sports season. THIS RECIPE MAKES 6 QUARTS! So if you aren't going to share or freeze - make changes accordingly.

I've also included a BUNCH of my *quick cheats* to make this a delicious soup that tastes like it cooked all day - in 20-30 minutes.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup
1/4 c butter
medium onion, diced*
1/4 c flour
1 c carrots (shredded/thinly sliced) I bought pre shredded
5-6 c chicken stock (depending on how thin/thick you want it)
1 1/2 lbs cooked chicken**
2 6.2 oz boxes Uncle Ben's Long Grain and Wild Rice fast cook w seasonings included -cooked***
2 1/2 c heavy cream
1 can corn
1 cup frozen peas
Salt and pepper

Get your rice going in the microwave. Then, get your butter going in your soup pot on about medium/low.

Add diced onion and let cook for a couple minutes - not translucent. Add shredded (or thinly sliced) carrots and cook until the onions are finally translucent. Add flour and let the uncooked flour taste cook out - stir frequently to make sure the onions and carrots are coated in that roux - just a couple minutes. Add chicken stock a cup at a time to marry the roux with the stock.

Add cooked chicken. Add salt and pepper. I recently heard on some food show that you need to season with S&P through every step of the cooking process - if you wait until the end everything just tastes overly salty and peppery. I love salt - but I'm taking baby steps to see if this method can work for me.

Let simmer for about 10 minutes. If you are in a hurry - 5 minutes with the lid on - that will trap the heat and create steam warming things up more quickly.

Add rice. This will bring the temperature of the soup down a bit. So simmer for another 2-3 minutes before adding the heavy cream 1/2 c at a time. You just don't want to introduce the cold cream to the hot pot too quickly.

Traditionally, this soup has all the ingredients listed above - but is heavier on the carrots and includes celery (which I LOVE). BUT - I have a child that is allergic to celery (I know!) so I omit it. If I were going to include celery - I would add it at the same time I added the onion so it would have enough time to get soft. I added corn and peas to bump up the veg - but next time I make it I'll omit the peas - although a couple of my kids really liked it with the peas. Personal preference I guess.

*you can buy pre diced onions in the produce or freezer section at your local grocery store
**rotisserie chicken now comes in 2 1/2 lb vacuumed sealed already off the bone at Costco in their deli area - I just divide it into 2 (half for another meal) and I run my knife through it to get more bite sized pieces
***microwave method suggests 8-10 minutes per box. I cook both of the boxes contents together in the microwave. Cover with plastic wrap. Stir after 5 minutes, then cook for 7 more minutes. It was a teeny bit liquidy after those 12 minutes, removed 1/2 of the plastic wrap (bc that freakin wrap can be frustrating!) so I stirred it once, put the plastic wrap back on and let it sit on the counter while I did everything else. The rice continues to cook and will absorb the excess water.

Thursday, April 26, 2018

Jalapeno Cheese Bread

Man oh man was this GOOOOOOD!!! I got the recipe from my old fave Ree Drummond - aka the Pioneer Woman.

It sounds like it would be really spicy - but remember green chilis are extremely mild - they just add a kick. I actually don't like olives of any kind - but my husband and all 3 girls do. In the spirit of trying new things - I tried these. The olives just add texture and saltiness. The jalapenos add some spice - but not too much to be off putting - me, my husband and all 4 kids (15, 13, 10, 6) ate it up in no time!

I ONLY made this for dinner. No sides, nada. Our week nights are ridiculously busy and we often eat in 2 shifts. I made half for the first shift before running 1/2 the kids and hubs ate, then made the other half for me and the other 1/2 of the kids when we got home for the night. So we all got a nice hot dinner.

Jalapeno Cheese Bread
8 Tbs butter (one stick) softened - NOT MELTED
1/2 cup mayo (I have a child with an egg allergy so I used Veganaise)
4 oz can diced jalapenos
4 oz can diced green chili's
6 oz jar green olives, drained and finely diced (the green olives I found were stuffed with pimento - the red you see - I figured that was a better bet that buying garlic or blue cheese stuffed).
6 oz shredded cheddar (she suggests white cheddar - but I had regular cheddar on hand)
6 oz shredded pepper jack cheese
2 green onions diced (didn't have these so I skipped them)
1 loaf French bread cut in half lengthwise

Mix all ingredients except bread until well incorporated. Spread on bread. Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

Something New!?!

I've been wanting Spring to finally get here! Every time Spring peeks out - winter rears her ugly head. So... I've been trying my best to keep my Spring dream alive!

We've been trying new recipes with foods we've never tried before.

Sweet Cherry Peppers - a big hit with everyone but my pickiest eater ever (6)

Lima Beans - actually a hit with me, Mr. 15, Miss 13, Miss 10. Okay with My Mister and even though she tried them - a "NO" for Miss 6.

Leeks - I tried them raw several months ago and HATED them - but kept hearing about how great they were and watching/reading recipes that used them over and over again. So - I tried them in a recipe and they are actually very good! When they are cooked - they have an onion like flavor but they are a bit more mild. A hit with all 6 of us.

Pickled eggs. Yes - this is a thing. It's a Vietti thing. Grandma usually makes a bunch in February/March to be ready for Easter - and makes enough to go through the hunt in October. She hasn't made them for a couple of years. Hubs was out of town and I wanted to give him a special treat to come home to - but I know better than to try to buy him something - so I made him pickled eggs. When he came home after being on the road and opened the fridge - he was THRILLED to see pickled eggs. I took some over to my brother in laws house and his face lit up. So easy - so worth the reaction - not for the faint of heart...

My husband was rummaging through the fridge and freezer today and asked why I was so obsessed with peas. SPRING! Still hunting down fava beans...

Things we have had - but not frequently that are coming up... green beans - so good! Spring petite peas (that we actually had for Easter with our traditional lamb chops and mashed potatoes) but will have again soon.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Spaghetti with Bacon, Corn, Jalapenos and Peppadews

I wanted to try something different - I'm doing that a lot lately. I came across this recipe from Rachael Ray - and it was delicious! ALL my kids (6, 10, 13, 15) RAVED about this - even days after we had it.

The "new" things we tried were sweet cherry peppers - which I had each of my kids try and approve before I added them - because - duh - and leeks - which I have actually tried before (I tried them raw and threw them out immediately) BUT I went for it and cooked them and was pleasantly surprised. They are a relative of onions - so it brings a mild onion flavor to the dish - my kids actually thought they were green onions after trying their first bite of the completed dish.

A few things... I couldn't find peppadews - ANYWHERE. I looked up a good substitute for peppadews and found that sweet cherry peppers are very similar (they are pickled - usually near the pickles!) When I seeded and deveined my jalapenos - I made sure to taste each one to make sure they were all mild - and that we didn't get one that was too spicy - I'm cooking for kids after all.

RR gives you a tip on how to get the corn off the cob without it going everywhere. My tip is to use a bundt pan - it is the bomb.

Also - because there is essentially no "sauce" it was tricky to incorporate the spaghetti with everything else - so I ended up spooning extra of the "toppings" on the spaghetti.

Rachael Ray's Spaghetti with Bacon, Corn, Jalapenos and Peppadews
1 pound spaghetti
3 large ears of corn on the cob, husked
3 jalapeno peppers
¾ pound bacon (12 meaty slices)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil (EVOO)
2 leeks, trimmed of tough tops, halved lengthwise, rinsed well by fanning under running water
Salt and pepper
5-6 large cloves garlic, thinly sliced or chopped or grated
2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
½ cup flat parsley, chopped
½ cup drained sweet or hot peppadews, chopped, plus a fat splash of their brine
Grated Parm cheese to toss and pass at table

Bring a large pot of water to boil for pasta.

Invert a small bowl inside a large mixing bowl and stand corn on end of cob, using sharp knife cut off kernels, collecting them in larger bowl.

For spicy pasta, finely chop jalapenos with seeds and ribs; for milder pasta, seed and remove ribs from peppers, then finely chop.

Chop cold bacon into ¼-inch dice.

Heat a large deep skillet over medium-high heat. Add EVOO, 2 turns of the pan, add bacon and render 3 minutes, then add corn and leeks and lightly brown 4-5 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. (If your bacon was meaty, it should not be necessary to drain the fat.) Add garlic and jalapenos to corn and reduce heat to medium-low.

Salt water and cook pasta to 1 minute less than package directions for al dente. Reserve about ½-2/3 cup starchy cooking liquid (half a mugful) before removing pasta.

Add drained pasta to corn and leeks and combine with starchy liquid, thyme, parsley, and peppadews and their brine. Adjust salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parm for passing.

Mexican Lasagna

  • Pastor Ryan's Mexican Lasagna
  • 4 cups Unprepared Rice
  • 6 cups (to 8 Cups) Low Sodium Chicken Broth/stock
  • 4 whole (to 8) Tomatoes (up To You)
  • 2 whole (to 3) Onions (up To You)
  • 8 cloves (to 14 Cloves) Of Garlic (up To You)
  • Butter
  • Taco Seasoning (or Chili Powder, Paprika, And Cumin) To Taste
  • 1 can (to 2 Cans) Black Or Pinto Beans (up To You)
  • 3 pounds Lean Ground Beef or rotisserie chicken
  • 2 jars (16 Ounce) Salsa Verde
  • Flour Tortillas
  • 3 packages (16 Ounces) Mexican Cheese Blend
  • 1 jar (16 Ounce) Enchilada Sauce
  • 3 cans Corn, Drained
  • Sour Cream, to taste
  • Cilantro, to taste

I straight up copied this recipe from the Pioneer Woman's blog. I've made it several times so I'm adding it here so I always know where the recipe is instead of checking all my favorite food sites until I find this recipe!


Begin by preparing rice with chicken broth/stock. Once prepared, salt to taste.

Chop up tomatoes, onions, and garlic as small as you prefer. Saute in pan with a tablespoon or so of butter. Add approximately 3 tablespoons chili powder, and 1 ½ tablespoon of both paprika and cumin. Stir until nicely combined.

Feel free to add beans if you like them… no need to drain. Mix cooked rice together with tomato/onion/garlic mixture.

Brown the ground beef using about 3 tablespoons chili powder, 1 ½ tablespoon, paprika and 1 ½ tablespoon of cumin and salt to taste with about 4-6 ounces of water to create the taco beef.

Spread one container of salsa verde in the bottom of a large casserole or baking dish. Layer on tortillas covering salsa verde. Some overlapping is expected.

Divide your rice mixture in half and spread it over the layer of tortillas. Divide cheese in half and layer it on top of the rice layer. Approximately 24 ounces of cheese per layer.

Add another layer of tortillas on top of your cheese layer. Pour enchilada sauce over the tortillas and spread it out evenly.

Add layer of browned ground beef. Add 3 cans of corn (drained) on top of beef layer. Then the remaining amount of rice mixture on top of corn layer followed by the remaining jar of salsa verde, on top of which you will add the remaining cheese (approximately 24ounces) to the top…this is our final layer of ingredients. Sprinkle top with some taco seasoning or cayenne pepper.

Bake at 375ยบ for 25-35 minutes until cheese has melted and begins to brown a bit.

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Mississippi Pot Roast

  • I didn't grow up eating pot roast - or any roast for that matter. I actually eat mostly meatless when I'm out with friends or alone. I make many meatless meals when my husband is out of town. I saw this recipe on the Food Network's show "The Kitchen". This is the number 1 MOST pinned recipe on Pinterest - so I had to try it. 

  • I did have to make a few tweaks though. You can see the original recipe HERE

I just couldn't do a 3-4 lb roast - even with 6 of us I knew we couldn't eat all of that especially with sides. I cut the time down to 6 hours instead of 8 because of the size difference in the roast. I kept an eye on it because the recipe doesn't call for a lot of "juice" and when I use my crock pot I usually make enough "juice" to cover the meat - just so everything stays tender and juicy. I ended up adding another stick of butter just to get a little more moisture in there. If I had to do it over again - I would've added a couple of cups of beef stock instead.

Husband and kids all loved it - I thought it was okay - keep in mind I don't like pot roast.


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