Soup for dinner

As I just wrote, fall is coming and comfort food is on the menu. This soup is one of our favorites and leftovers freeze well.

Mexican Chicken Soup

  • 2 whole chicken breasts, bone in
  • olive oil
  • 2 chopped yellow onions
  • 2 stalks chopped celery
  • 3 chopped carrots
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 1/2 quarts of chicken stock (I have homemade in the freezer and will use 1 container of store bought to stretch mine)
  • 1 28 oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 jalapeno pepper, seed and chopped fine
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp ground coriander seed
  • 6 corn tortillas (6 inch size)
  • sliced avocado
  • sour cream
  • grated cheddar cheese

Optional:

  • chopped cilantro
  • tortilla chips

Preheat oven to 350.  Rub chicken breasts with olive oil, kosher salt and pepper.  Roast for 45 minutes or until done.  Let cool.  Remove skin and bones and chop meat.  Set aside.

In a soup pot, heat 3 TBs of olive oil.  Add chopped onions, celery and carrots and cook for 10 – 12 minutes.  Add garlic and stir in with veggies.  Add chicken stock, tomatoes, jalapeno, cumin, coriander and cilantro (if desired).  Cut tortillas into strips and add.  Bring to a boil and then lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer for 30 minutes.  Add chicken and check seasonings – add salt and pepper if needed.  Serve with sliced avocado, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and tortilla chips (if desired).

Comfort food

When you are looking for comfort food, soup is a great choice.  This oyster stew is one of our favorites.  Samantha likes the broth but doesn’t want any of the oysters.  I put in some extra half and half so I have extra broth for her and we enjoy the extra oysters!

Oyster Stew

  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 TB butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup celery, minced
  • 1 1/2 TB flour
  • 1 1/2 TB Old Bay
  • 1 qt half and half
  • 1 pt oysters  (with the oyster liquor) – I actually had more than a pint because of my leftovers which isn’t a bad thing
  • dash Worcestershire sauce

Cook bacon in a heavy pan (love my Le Creuset!).  Remove bacon to a paper towel when done and reserve.  Add butter to the bacon fat and melt.  Add onion and celery and saute until soft.  Add flour and Old Bay and stir well to combine.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Add half and half and whisk until smooth.  Add oyster liquor and Worcestershire.  (We stopped at this point and let the mixture sit for about an hour until we were almost ready to serve.) Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add oysters right before you are ready to serve and heat through – 2 – 3 minutes.  Serve with reserved bacon.

First dinner of 2015

More comfort food

This oyster stew is one of my favorites.  Even though Samantha isn’t an oyster fan, she likes the broth.  That works out well for us as we get extra oysters!

Oyster Stew

  • 3 slices bacon, diced
  • 4 TB butter
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1/2 cup celery, minced
  • 1 1/2 TB flour
  • 1 1/2 TB Old Bay
  • 1 qt half and half
  • 1 pt oysters  (with the oyster liquor) – I actually had more than a pint because of my leftovers which isn’t a bad thing
  • dash Worcestershire sauce

Cook bacon in a heavy pan (love my Le Creuset!).  Remove bacon to a paper towel when done and reserve.  Add butter to the bacon fat and melt.  Add onion and celery and sauce until soft.  Add flour and Old Bay and stir well to combine.  Cook for about 1 minute.  Add half and half and whisk until smooth.  Add oyster liquor and Worcestershire.  (We stopped at this point and let the mixture sit for about an hour until we were almost ready to serve.) Simmer for about 10 minutes.  Add oysters right before you are ready to serve and heat through – 2 – 3 minutes.  Serve with reserved bacon.

Comfort food

As mentioned in my previous post, I let everyone pick a favorite meal for this week.  I wasn’t surprised that Keith picked these quesadillas.  Samantha doesn’t like shrimp so I use a smaller pan to saute her chipotle pepper and garlic and then add beans.  That also works as she can handle a lot more heat than I can so I added extra chipotle to hers.  She still said “Mom, it’s not that spicy.”  Showoff!

These could easily be adapted to your food preferences – chicken could be substituted for the shrimp, corn for all or some of the beans, more or less heat, etc.

Chipotle shrimp and black bean quesadilla

  • 3/4 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined and cut in half lengthwise
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1  – 2 tsp pureed chipotle pepper in adobo sauce (if you are making for the first time, start with 1 tsp until you see how much heat you like)
  • 1 clove minced garlic
  • 1 can of black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 3/4 cup Monterey Jack cheese (I actually used a mix of pepperjack and Mexican cheese blend)
  • 3 6″ flour tortillas (or 2 larger ones and then cut the whole thing in half)
  • 1 additional TB of olive oil
  • sour cream (I use reduced fat)
  • salsa
  • 1 avocado, chopped

Heat a skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil, butter, garlic and pureed chipotle.  Stir to combine for 1 minute.  Add shrimp and cook until just done.  Pour in beans and combine.  Remove from heat to a bowl and stir in cheese so it partially melts.

Divide filling between tortillas, spreading on half of tortilla and then folding over.  Brush with olive oil.  Bake at 425 for about 10 minutes until top is golden brown and crispy.  Top with a dollop each of sour cream, salsa and chopped avocado (or guacamole).  Enjoy!

quesadillas

Sunday dinner

I’m keeping it simple tonight.  Great comfort food.

Grilled lamb chops

  • lamb chops (I get one rib and one loin chop per person)
  • kosher salt
  • fresh ground pepper
  • Worcestershire sauce

Season chops with salt and pepper.  Marinate in Worcestershire sauce for 30 – 60 minutes and grill to desired doneness.

Sauteed spinach

  • 2 bags of baby spinach
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 medium shallot, sliced
  • 1 TB butter

Heat a saute pan over medium heat.  Add olive oil and then add spinach, tossing as it wilts.  Add shallots and saute an additional minute or two.  Remove from heat, toss with butter and serve.

Hash browns

  • 1 package shredded potatoes (you know I don’t do many of pre-packaged things but these are so darn convenient)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 TB butter

In a non-stick skillet, heat olive oil and butter.  Add potatoes and cook about 20 minutes, tossing frequently.

lamb and spinach

Taking requests

I’m always pleased when my family requests that I include something in the menu plan because it takes some of the pressure off of me.  Last night Keith said “You haven’t made chicken curry in a long time.”  This is not an authentic curry but it is delicious.  It’s great if you have leftover chicken from a rotisserie or roasted chicken.  I don’t so I’m cooking a chicken breast now (tossed with olive oil, salt and pepper and in the oven now at 375 for 40 minutes.)

Chicken Curry

  • 2 TB butter
  • 2 TB flour
  • 1 1/2 cups mile (you can use a combination of milk and chicken stock if you prefer)
  • 1/4 cup white wine
  • 1 – 2 tsp curry powder (adjust to suit your taste in spiciness)
  • leftover cooked chicken
  • rice
  • chopped hardboiled eggs
  • peanuts
  • bacon
  • chutney

Cook flour and butter over low heat stirring frequently.  Gradually add milk (or stock), stirring until sauce is smooth and creamy.  Add wine and curry powder, stirring.  Add chicken and stir.  (If sauce gets too thick, add more liquid.)

Serve over rice with bowls of egg, peanuts, bacon and chutney.  Pass the toppings so everyone can add what they like.  Enjoy!

chicken curry

The advantage of blogging

I had a long day at work today and the temptation to skip cooking was strong.  One of the advantages of blogging is that I know what I’m making and I have the ingredients.  That makes it easier to resist temptation and go ahead with the plan.  This risotto was well worth it.  Samantha was a little bit disappointed that I made something with mushrooms in it but she did concede that she liked it.  It would be good with a light green salad.

Sausage and mushroom risotto

  • 5 cups of chicken stock (I used a quart of store-bought and a cup of homemade)
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 3/4 lb sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing
  • 12 oz mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups Arborio rice
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

Put chicken stock in a pan and bring to a boil.  Turn heat down to low and keep warm.

In a heavy saucepan, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add onion and cook until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add sausage and cook, breaking up until it is cooked through, another 5 minutes.  Add mushrooms and cook, stirring often until they are soft, another 5 minutes.  Add rice and stir until opaque, about 1 minute.  Add wine and stir until absorbed, about 2 minutes.

Add chicken stock slowly, a ladleful at a time and cook, stirring almost constantly.  You want to make sure that the liquid is absorbed by the rice before adding more.  This should take about 20 minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.  Serve.

risotto

Winter comfort food

This is one of my favorite winter foods.  It smells so good simmering on the stove and it really warms you up on a cold night.  I had some in the freezer as I had made with leftover tenderloin from Christmas.  It freezes really well.

Saucy Sirloin

  • Tenderloin tips or cubed beef, about 1 pound
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 4 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 2 can whole mushrooms, drained
  • 1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • 1/3 cup red wine
  • 1 can consomme

Combine flour and dry mustard and toss beef cubes until coated.  Over medium heat, swirl in olive oil and butter and brown beef until just done.  Add garlic and scallions and stir for 30 seconds.  Add mushrooms and Worcestershire sauce and cook stirring for 2 -3 minutes.  Add wine and scrape brown bits from pan, stirring into sauce.  Add consomme and simmer until ready to serve over rice.  (French bread or a roll to dip in the sauce is a nice touch!)

saucy sirloin

More comfort food

Tonight’s schedules are a little tricky.  Tomato soup and grilled cheese are just the thing.  The tomato soup is easy and everyone can get creative with their grilled cheese.  Samantha and Keith found some Parmesan/cheddar cheese.  I’m going to try that!

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.

Serve hot with grilled cheese sandwiches.

Comfort food

Shrimp and Pancetta on polenta

The inspiration for this recipe came from an old article from Gourmet.  They suggest using instant polenta but it really isn’t very hard to make and the real thing is so much better.  Spring for fresh rosemary, you will really taste it in the polenta.  This is one of my favorite dinners and if you don’t like shrimp, I have it on good authority that chicken tenders are also excellent on top of polenta.

Rosemary polenta

  • 2 TB butter
  • 2 TB olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp minced rosemary
  • 3/4 cup chicken stock
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cornmeal
  • 4 TB grated Parmesan cheese

Melt butter and olive oil.  Add garlic, red pepper flakes and rosemary and saute for 1 minute.  Add milk and chicken stock and boil.  Add cornmeal and whisk, stirring over low heat.  Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese.  If you have a 13 year old, increase the quantities!

Shrimp and Pancetta (for 2)

  • 2 oz pancetta, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves,minced
  • ½ tsp red pepper flakes
  • 1 TB olive oil
  • 1 14 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2/3 lb large shrimp, cleaned and halved lengthwise.

Heat olive oil over medium heat and add pancetta.  Cook until crisp then add garlic and pepper flakes and cook for 30 seconds.  Add tomatoes (with juice) and simmer for 6- 8 minutes.  Add shrimp and cook until shrimp are pink and cooked through.  Spoon polenta into bowls and top with shrimp mixture.

shrimp

Buy extra pancetta and treat yourself to one of our new favorite things for breakfast – pancetta scrambled eggs.

Pancetta scrambled eggs (for 2)

  • 2 oz pancetta, diced
  • 1 TB butter
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 tsp Parmesan cheese

In a non-stick skillet, cook pancetta until crisp.  Drain on paper towels and wipe out skillet.  Melt butter and add eggs.  Stir eggs continuously with a spatula.  When eggs are almost completely set, stir in pancetta.  Then stir in Parmesan cheese.  Serve on toast (I keep rosemary olive oil bread in the freezer and serve it on that.)