Soup night

Soup and sandwich night was quite popular last week so I decided to repeat the theme but with different ingredients.  We all love butternut squash soup and it is such a great soup for fall – even the color fits with the season.  Most recipes call for roasting the squash so I was intrigued by one that called for cooking the vegetables (and in this case apples) on top of the stove.  It worked out well as I made the soup on the stovetop last night while I roasted chicken for chicken salad as a companion.  Samantha said she likes the curried butternut squash soup that I make and serve with cashews better but I noticed that she had seconds of this one!

Butternut squash soup

  • 1 package cubed butternut squash (although I generally avoid buying things that are prepped and think that many of them are over the top – I can peel garlic, chop pancetta, etc., I have to admit that I think precut butternut squash is a lot easier than dealing with the whole vegetables.  If you want to cut up squash yourself, have at it.)  You’ll want 5 – 6 cups.
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 2 carrots, chopped
  • 3 leeks, chopped
  • 6 TB butter
  • 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and sliced
  • 5 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup apple cider
  • 1 tsp thyme
  • 1 tsp sage

Melt butter in a heavy (and big) pot and add vegetables.  Cook stirring regularly until vegetables start to soften (about 20 minutes).  Add apples, chicken stock, cider and spices and bring to a low boil.  Reduce heat and simmer about 30 minutes.  Puree in batches until smooth.

Chicken Salad

  • 1 whole bone in chicken breast with skin on (I prefer organic chicken)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green grapes, halved
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup (or as needed) Hellmann’s mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350.  Rub chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a ceramic dish.  Roast until chicken is at 150.  Combine chicken with celery and grapes and season with thyme, garlic pwoder, Worcestershire and celery salt.  Add mayonnaise and stir well to combine.  If salad is dry, add more mayonnaise.  Chill and refrigerate until ready to serve.

This is the chicken salad recipe that I developed years ago when I catered a baby shower lunch for a friend.  I made three variations and Keith picked this one.  I remember being surprised at the time as he doesn’t like grapes.  I made the chicken salad last night and when I served it tonight, Keith and Samantha both requested that I pick out the grapes.  Fortunately, I like grapes.  We had some brioche slider buns in the freezer and had chicken salad on those.

soup

 

Leftover salads

The steak and chicken both resulted in additional dinners using up the leftovers in salads.  The lemon garlic steak was great on top of a vegetable salad with a new dressing and is easily adaptable to your favorite veggies and/or dressings.  The chicken was the latest entrant in my ongoing competition for the best chicken salad.  This is definitely in the running!

Salad with leftover steak

This vinaigrette is excellent and paired well with the steak.  For the salad itself use whatever greens and vegetables you like and/or have on hand.  (I had leftover potatoes, tomatoes and avocado).

  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1 Tbsp Dijon mustard
  • 1 TB balsamic vinegar
  • 1 garlic clove, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 cup canola oil
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Combine egg, mustard, vinegar, garlic and shallot with 1 TB water in a food processor or blender.  With the machine on, slowly drizzle in the oils until incorporated.  Season with salt and pepper and use as dressing on your salad.

IMG_3343

Chicken Salad

  • chopped chicken from spicy grilled chicken
  • 1 shallot minced
  • 2 stalks celery, chopped
  • 1 dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 cup Mayonnaise (more or less to taste)

Combine all ingredients.  Enjoy on top of lettuce or as a sandwich.

Using leftovers

I hate wasting food.  We are so fortunate to be well fed and I know there are hungry people both here at home and all over the world.  Last night and tonight were focused on using leftovers.  Keith had a meeting last night so I made chicken salad with the leftover chicken from Sunday night.  The chicken was so moist and tender there wasn’t much leftover but I made my favorite chicken salad (quantities obviously vary based on how much leftover chicken you have!):

Roast chicken salad

  • leftover chicken from a roasted chicken, chopped
  • celery, finely chopped
  • shallot, minced
  • thyme
  • garlic powder
  • Worcestershire
  • celery salt
  • mayonnaise

Combine all ingredients.  Taste and adjust as needed.  Serve by itself or as a sandwich or on lettuce.  Delicious!

Tonight I had planned on having assorted flatbreads, continuing my flatbread experiment.  However I was low on flatbreads and had a pizza crust in the freezer.  There were some leftover mushrooms and there was leftover cheese.  I got some spinach at the salad bar, brushed the pizza crust with garlic and olive oil and then topped it with the spinach, the mushrooms and the cheese.  Delicious and a good use of leftovers!

Multitasking

Tonight we had the Southwestern Shrimp Taco salad.  It was delicious and it is pretty straightforward to fix.  That is if it is your only project.  In my case it wasn’t.  Samantha announced that she wanted tomato soup with grilled cheese.  That actually worked out well because I had leftover diced tomatoes from the Chicken Tikka Masala on Saturday.  I had been trying to think of what to do with them and a quick improvised tomato soup seemed like a great idea.  I sautéed a minced shallot and a minced clove of garlic and threw them into the Vitamix with the tomatoes.  We added some chicken stock and half and half and Samantha decided to add basil.  We pureed it all and heated it up and voila – tomato soup and grilled cheese.

Quick tomato soup

I was also making chicken salad with the leftover chicken from last night’s roast chicken.  This is the recipe I like:

Chicken Salad

  • chicken meat
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 1 large or 2 small shallots, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup (or as needed) Hellmann’s mayonnaise

Combine chicken with celery and season with thyme, garlic powder, Worcestershire and celery salt.  Add mayonnaise and stir well to combine.  If salad is dry, add more mayonnaise.  Chill and refrigerate until ready to serve.

This was all while making our dinner:

Southwestern shrimp taco salad

  • juice from 3 limes
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 tsp cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (keep the rest in the fridge for chipotle mayo and marinades)
  • 1 1/2 tsp honey (original recipe called for maple syrup but I thought honey would be better)
  • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 head romaine lettuce, washed and torn into smallpieces
  • 1/2 can of black beans rinsed and drained
  • 3 plum tomatoes chopped
  • 1 avocado, chopped
  • 1 oz lime flavored tortilla chips  (original recipe called for blue corn chips but we love the lime and I thought it would go well with lime dressing)
  • 2 TB light sour cream

Whisk together lime juice, olive oil, cumin, garlic, chipotle pepper and honey.  Toss shrimp with about 1/2 of the mixture and roast at 425 for about 10 minutes until pink (original recipe called for grilling but I love the flavor of roasted shrimp).  Cover plates with romaine and some lime chips.  Combine beans, tomatoes and avocado in a bowl and toss with remaining dressing.  Divide mixture between plates and top with shrimp and a dollop of sour cream.  Serve.

And Keith was getting chicken stock going!  Feels like a restaurant!

Catching up

This week has been busy.  I had my last Thai cooking class on Monday night and Keith played paddle tennis last night.  So our meals haven’t been too exciting.  I roasted two bone in chicken breasts on Sunday (tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted at 350 for about 45 minutes).  One was sliced and mixed with a mache lettuce blend, some sliced mushrooms, a chopped tomato, a little bit of cheese and the rest of the Dijon vinaigrette that was in the fridge:

Dijon Vinaigrette

  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1 TB Dijon mustard
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp oregano
  • fresh ground pepper

Combine in a blender.  Use on almost any salad.  NOTE: You can change the herbs to suit what you like best.

On Tuesday, we had the shrimp and sausage pizzas that Keith loves:

Shrimp and Sausage Pizzas

  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 yellow onion, sliced
  • 1/2 lb aweet Italian turkey sausage, casings removed
  • 2 chopped garlic cloves
  • 2/3 lb shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 1 cup medium salsa
  • 1 TB canned green chiles
  • 3/4 tsp cumin
  • 6 inch corn tortillas
  • shredded cheddar cheese

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium high heat and heat oil.  Saute onion until soft, 3 -5 minutes.  Add sausage and garlic and cook until sausage is browned, 8 -10 minutes.  Add shrimp, salsa, chiles and cumin and bring to a boil.  Simmer until shrimp are opaque, 4 – 6 minutes.  Remove from heat.  Refrigerate until ready to use.

When ready to use, preheat oven to 475.  Spoon sausage mixture on to 6 inch corn tortillas and top each with shredded cheddar cheese.  Cook 5 – 6 minutes or until cheese is melted.  This should be on a pizza stone or cookie sheet.

NOTE: Do not put topping on tortillas until ready to cook, they get soggy.

Tonight we had leftover Cream of Maryland Crab soup (so good – and there is more in the freezer!) and chicken salad from the other chicken breast:

Chicken salad

  • meat from roasted chicken breast
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 stalk celery, minced
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp garlic powder (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp thyme (or to taste)
  • about 1/4 cup mayonnaise

Stir together all ingredients.  Taste and adjust to suit you.  Serve alone, on a bed of lettuce, on toast or on crackers.  (You can also add grapes and/or nuts).

Leftovers are the mother of invention

When I made the ranch dressing grilled chicken the other night, I cooked one extra chicken breast.  Samantha didn’t finish hers so I had more than 1 serving and less than 2.  I decided it would make interesting chicken salad.  Here is what I did:

Ranch dressing chicken salad

  • leftover Ranch dressing grilled chicken
  • 1 stalk celery, chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 3 -4 TB mayonnaise

Combine all ingredients.  Keith loved it and we both enjoyed it for lunch today and the chicken wasn’t wasted.  Note to self – plan on extras next time!

This has been the first week back to school.  Tonight is the first night of soccer practice.  Therefore, I needed a break.  I found this pasta fresh at Graul’s and thought it looked good.  We’ll enjoy it with Graul’s Marinara sauce and all I have to do is boil water and heat sauce.  And Samantha can have pasta too (not exotic mushroom ravioli)

A break for the cook!

A break for the cook!

Leftover chicken

There are so many yummy things to make with leftover roast chicken but tonight we just wanted chicken salad.  As you may remember, I did some experimenting with chicken salad when putting together food for a baby shower.  I took most of the leftover chicken and turned it into salad using the following formula (measurements are not precise – taste and season to suit you)

Chicken Salad

  • leftover chicken from roasted chicken
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • 1/4 cup (or as needed) Hellmann’s mayonnaise

Toss chicken with seasonings and then add in mayonnaise.  I served it on mache lettuce.

As an experiment I split the chicken meat and tossed some of it with chipotle mayonnaise.  I make the chipotle mayonnaise by putting a cup of mayonnaise and a chipotle pepper in adobo sauce in a food processor and processing until smooth.  The chipotle version was too hot for me but my husband loved it.  Good to have multiple variations.  He’ll take the rest of it for lunch tomorrow.

More comfort food

It is very cold here and perfect weather for soup.  I made tomato soup last night for us to enjoy this evening and made chicken salad with the leftover chicken from Sunday’s dinner.  What a delicious meal on a cold winter night!  And there is still more soup left!

Tomato soup

  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 3 small yellow onions, chopped
  • 2 large or 4 small shallots, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 qt chicken stock (I’m using half homemade and half store bought)
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • pinch of saffron
  • 1/2 cup orzo
  • 1/2 cup cream

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot.  Add onions and shallots and cook until soft and golden (10 -12 minutes).  Add garlic and cook, stirring for 1 minute.  Stir in chicken stock, tomatoes and saffron with 1 pinch of salt and a teaspoon of fresh ground pepper.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Fill a smaller pot with water and a pinch of salt and bring to a boil.  Add orzo and cook for 7 minutes.  Drain and add to soup along with cream.  Simmer for another 5 – 10 minutes.

Chicken Salad

  • leftover roast chicken
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup (or as needed) Hellmann’s mayonnaise

Combine chicken with celery and shallots and season with thyme, garlic pwoder, Worcestershire and celery salt.  Add mayonnaise and stir well to combine.  If salad is dry, add more mayonnaise.  Chill and refrigerate until ready to serve.

 

Baby shower

I did the food for my friend Celia’s baby shower today.  Everything turned out well (if I do say so myself.)  I met with Celia and her daughter a few weeks ago and we planned a menu that we thought had something for everyone.  Here is what was served:

  • Chicken Salad
  • Crab salad in cucumber cups
  • Blanched asparagus with wasabi mayonnaise
  • Bloody Mary tomato salad
  • Pasta salad

Here are the recipes:

Chicken Salad

  • 1 whole bone in chicken breast with skin on (I prefer organic chicken)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green grapes, halved
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup (or as needed) Hellmann’s mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350.  Rub chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a ceramic dish.  Roast until chicken is at 150.  Combine chicken with celery and grapes and season with thyme, garlic pwoder, Worcestershire and celery salt.  Add mayonnaise and stir well to combine.  If salad is dry, add more mayonnaise.  Chill and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Crab salad in cucumber cups
  • 2 cucumbers, cut into slices about 3/4 inch
  • 1 pound of crabmeat
  • 2 TB mayonnaise
  • 1 TB lemon juice
  • 1 tsp celery salt (or 1 celery stalk minced)
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

Scoop center out of cucumber slices with a spoon.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  Gently combine crabmeat with mayo, lemon juice, celery salt and Worcestershire.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  When ready to serve, mound about 2 tsp of crab salad in cucumber cup and eat.  (For the baby shower I used 2 pounds of crabmeat and 5 cucumbers.  We could have used at least one more cucumber but the crab salad is good by itself.)

Asparagus with Wasabi Mayonnaise

  • Asparagus spears, tough ends broken off
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 4 tsp soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp sugar
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 4 tsp wasabi paste
Blanch asparagus in boiling water for 2 minutes per batch.  Rinse under cold water and refrigerate.  Whisk together remaining ingredients and refrigerate.  Serve asparagus with mayonnaise dipping sauce.  (Mayonnaise keeps in the refrigerator for several weeks and is also good on turkey sandwiches.)  Everyone loved this – I made 3 pounds of asparagus.)

Bloody Mary tomato salad

  • good tomatoes (I used a mix of red and yellow)
  • 1 TB horseradish
  • 2 TB lemon juice
  • 1 tsp celery seed
  • 1/2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1/4 olive oil

Chop tomatoes.  Combine horseradish, lemon juice, celery seed, Worcestershire and pepper.  Gradually whisk in olive oil.  Toss with tomatoes.  Beautiful in the trifle bowl and I found one perfect leafy stalk of celery to garnish the bowl.

Pasta Salad

  • 1 pound tri-color fusilli pasta
  • 1 package Good Seasons Italian dressing (made according to package instructions.)  You can either use the Italian or Zesty Italian – I doubled the recipe and used one of each today.
  • 1 – 2 TB capers, drained
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions.  Drain and rinse in cool water to stop cooking.  Toss with dressing, capers and Parmesan and cover.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  You could add vegetables (blanched broccoli, sliced cherry tomatoes but I figured with everything else, we would just serve it straight.

Doesn’t the table look pretty!

Baby shower

Baby shower

 

Chicken salad cook-off

I am catering a baby shower for a friend on Saturday.  The main event will be chicken salad in lettuce cups.  Although I’ve made chicken salad many times before, I wanted to be sure that I liked the product before I served it in “prime time”.  I did a little research in my collection of cookbooks and settled on three variations I wanted to try.  ( I eliminated Chinese chicken salad recipes and curried chicken salad as I know the hostess wasn’t interested in either of those.)  I selected three options to try and fixed them for my husband for dinner tonight.   For my research, I deliberately selected cookbooks written by caterers or individuals who have operated specialty food stores.  Their recipes are tried and true crowd pleasers and I have confidence that they will adapt well when the quantities are increased. 

The cookbooks I selected were The Nantucket Open-House Cookbook by Sarah Leah Chase, The Silver Palate by Julee Rosso and Sheila Lukins and barefoot contessa: how easy is that?by Ina Garten.  All three are cookbooks (and authors) that I reference regularly.  Interestingly, all three had different suggestions for cooking the chicken – Sarah Leah Chase poaches hers, The Silver Palate authors cook theirs in creme fraiche and Ina roasts hers with olive oil, salt and pepper.  I bought bone in organic chicken breasts with the skin on and rubbed them with olive oil, salt and pepper and roasted them in a ceramic baking dish at 350 for about an hour until cooked through.  I then pulled the meat apart and split it between three bowls and whipped up my three variations.  Sarah Leah Chase makes a classic chicken salad with grapes, mayonnaise and thyme.  I tweaked the recipe a little bit.  The Silver Palate uses a dressing that is half mayonnaise and half sour cream.  (Of course, I couldn’t resist tinkering slightly with this one as well.)  Several of the Barefoot Contessa recipes have chicken salad variations – the one in this book has a dressing that combines mayonnaise with Dijon mustard and whole grain mustard.  

I served the three variations in lettuce cups and gave my husband a key so he could see which one was which:

Chicken salad cookoff!

Chicken salad cookoff!

We both liked the Sarah Leah Chase variation best (although we did like all three).  The mustard version was a little strong and we felt that it wasn’t the right answer for a baby shower luncheon for ladies.  The other two were a close call and I was a little bit surprised that my husband (who doesn’t like grapes) really preferred the version with grapes.  Here is the recipe the way I made it:

Chicken Salad

  • 1 whole bone in chicken breast with skin on (I prefer organic chicken)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 rib celery, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup green grapes, halved
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/4 tsp celery salt
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup (or as needed) Hellmann’s mayonnaise

Preheat oven to 350.  Rub chicken with olive oil, salt and pepper and place in a ceramic dish.  Roast until chicken is at 150.  Combine chicken with celery and grapes and season with thyme, garlic pwoder, Worcestershire and celery salt.  Add mayonnaise and stir well to combine.  If salad is dry, add more mayonnaise.  Chill and refrigerate until ready to serve.  

I steamed some broccoli for us to have as our side dish.