Tag Archives: cooking

Chicken Noodle Soup

27 Oct

Fall is the season for lots and lots of soup.  There’s just something about a steamy bowl of soup combined with chilly temps and colorful leaves that just warms the soul!  Yesterday was one of those days that was perfect for soup.  I was not in the mood for anything tomato-y so I opted for chicken noodle instead. I have to tell you that after making my own, I will never go back to canned chicken noodle ever again.  When you open a can you get a bunch of mushiness with a chicken flavor.  When you make your own you can actually taste the chicken, noodles, carrots, celery, and onions.  It is amazing!  I made a small pot (only used 1/2lb chicken), and somehow by the end of the evening we had eaten at all!

I actually didn’t take any pictures of my soup yesterday – we were both hungry and more worried about actually eating!  I did things a little differently the first time, like cutting the chicken into cubes rather than shredding it.  Also, when I made it last night I added a can of corn which is a little non-traditional but was delicious!  The first time I made this we had little french rolls on the side, but last night, since we didn’t have anything else, I whipped up some quick Bisquick biscuits to go with it.  I hope you give this hearty meal a try sometime this fall!

Click here for the recipe.

First you will want to cook your chicken.  I have cooked it in a pan before, but I actually really like poaching it (cooking it in a pan of boiling water).

While the chicken is cooking chop your onions and garlic.  Begin sauteing them in your soup pot over medium heat.

Next chop your carrots and celery and add them to the pot.  Saute all of this until it begins to soften a bit.

Add 1 box of chicken stock and about an extra cup of water.  Season with salt and pepper as you like. Bring to a simmer.

For the pasta:  I have done this two different ways.  The first time I cooked the pasta on its own, but last night I cooked it in the chicken stock.  I think I prefer the chicken stock method.

When your chicken is cooked all the way through, either dice it or shred it and add it to the pot.

Finally, add corn (optional), and let simmer until the pasta is cooked all the way through.

Serve with a roll or biscuit and wine of your choice!  Enjoy!

Turkey Sliders

25 Oct

Ever since Karl’s dad’s big surgery (his dad is doing fantastic, by the way), we have become much more conscious about avoiding red meat.  We have learned that ground turkey and chicken can be great substitutes in soups, tacos, etc.  The one thing we had not yet conquered was a burger.  Sometimes there is just no replacement for a juicy burger – until now!  Previous attempts at turkey burgers yielded dry, boring burgers that we didn’t even want to finish.  Then one day I saw this type while watching an episode of Down Home with the Neelys.  They suggested adding ricotta cheese to keep the burgers from drying out.  I knew right then I needed to try this!

Karl was pretty skeptical when I told him I was making turkey burgers for dinner.  He thought history would repeat itself and we would soon be calling for pizza instead.  I knew better, and he was pleasantly surprised with the result!  He liked them so much he asked for them again the next week!  These are definitely worth a shot if you are craving a burger but want to stay on the healthy side.  Making sliders makes them even healthier (as long as you just eat one!) because it cuts down on the calories.  So here’s how you make them:

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 medium white or yellow onion
  • 1 pound lean ground turkey breast
  • 1/4 cup part-skim ricotta
  • Garlic salt and pepper to taste
  • Slider sized whole wheat buns
  • Cheese slices
  • Burger toppings of your choice – we opted for spciy brown mustard and hot peppers
  1. Dice onion very finely
  2. In a large bowl combine onion, ricotta cheese, and turkey breast
  3. Form meat into 2.5-3 oz patties – I like to do like Rachael Ray and smush the center down so they don’t puff up too much
  4. Cook in  a cast-iron skillet over medium to medium-high heat until all patties have reached 160 degrees F
  5. Top each patty with a half slice of cheese, place on a bun and add your favorite toppings

These would be great with some sweet potato fries (baked, not fried) which I have yet to master.  If you have any sweet potato fry recipes please share them with me!  Since I have not yet mastered the sweet potato fries I served these with garlic smashed potatoes which were really good as well!

Black Bean Tacos

23 Oct

As you’ve probably already gathered, Karl and I like to eat a lot of beans!  They are delicious, filling, and a great substitute for meat in your dishes!  One such bean dish we tried a few months ago and loved is black bean tacos.  We love making black bean tacos for many reasons.  1 – they are delicious.  2 – they are cheap; a can of beans costs only $0.75 while a pound of ground beef is around $3.80.  3 – they are quick and easy; I can have dinner on the table in 20 minutes or less.  They are so, so simple, and I promise if you try them you won’t miss the meat!

Here’s the recipe:

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium white onion
  • 1 bell pepper (whatever color you choose – I like to use half of 2 different colored peppers)
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes
  • 1 handful cilantro
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 can chopped green chiles
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. chili powder
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • flour tortillas
  • shredded lettuce
  • Mexican cheese
  • salsa

How to make it:

  1. Heat 1 tbsp olive oil in a large saute pan.
  2. Dice onion and begin sauteing.
  3. Dice peppers and add them to the pan; cook until onions and peppers begin to soften.
  4. Add beans, green chiles, and cilantro. Season with cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper.
  5. Slice tomatoes in half and add just before serving.  Cook until all ingredients are warmed through.
  6. Fill tortillas and top with cheese, lettuce, and salsa.
  7. Enjoy!  We usually eat these by themselves but they would also be great with some Mexican rice.

Chicken Chili Mac

18 Sep

Well, its official, fall is here on the east coast, and I don’t think we are going to warm up again for the rest of this year.  This is my favorite time of year because it means getting out cozy sweaters and sweatpants and a season full of comforting soups and stews.  Karl and I will probably make two big pots of chili a month.  Something that we started last year though was really counting our calories and measuring everything that we ate.  It was shocking to see how much you can overeat on a bowl of chili!  You may think that it is difficult to figure out how many calories are in a serving of a food that you prepare, but actually its pretty simple.  So, today’s post will be dedicated to teaching you how to count exactly how many calories go into your favorite dish!

I always start by weighing the pot I will be cooking in and recording this.  Next I start cooking!  For the chili I sauteed an onion and added my ground chicken.  As I have mentioned previously we are trying to cut down on the amount of red meat that we eat, so we wanted to try eating chili with chicken instead of ground beef.  I will just tell you up front that it was great!  You could not even tell there wasn’t ground beef in it.  I think I prefer the moistness of ground chicken to ground turkey, but if you are a turkey person feel free to substitute 1 lb of ground turkey instead.

After the chicken was cooked all the way through I drained the excess fat then added 2/3 can of tomato paste and a can of diced tomatoes with chopped green chiles and about a cup of water.  We do the spices the easy way and buy a seasoning packet!  After letting this simmer for about 20 minutes, I add the beans.  We both like a lot of beans so we usually use 3 cans – 1 of chili beans, 1 of dark red kidney beans, and 1 of light red kidney beans (both cans of kidney beans should be drained and rinsed).  I add these about 15-20 minutes before serving, but before I do, I make sure to do a sample to make sure the seasoning is ok!

While everything is simmering I write down the quantities of ingredients and calculate the total calories in the pot.  At the very end I weigh the whole pot.  Then I subtract the pot weight that I took initially to get the final weight of the food.  Then I just simply divide the total number of calories in the pot by the total number of ounces of the food – and voila!  If you try this method I think you will be really surprised at how much you should be eating versus what you actually eat.  It is really an eye opener, and a great way to keep yourself on a good fitness track.

At the end, you can serve your chili with your favorite toppings – crackers, cheese, onions, etc.  My favorite way to eat chili is as chili mac, on top of elbow macaroni.  Whatever you choose just be sure to also measure out your toppings!  I this recipe helps you enjoy a chilly autumn day just like it did for us!!

Chicken Chili Mac

Ingredients:

  • 1 medium white or yellow onion
  • 1 lb ground chicken
  • 2/3 small can tomato paste
  • 1 can (10 oz) diced tomatoes and and green chiles
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 packet Chili-O seasoning mix
  • 1 can chili beans
  • 1 can dark red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can light red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • choice of toppings such as cheese, onions, elbow macaroni, crackers, etc.

Putting it together:

  1. Dice onion and saute until it just beings to soften.  Add chicken and season with  a bit of salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Once meat is cooked thoroughly, drain any excess fat or water.
  2. Add tomato paste, diced tomatoes, water, and seasoning mix.  Let simmer for 20-30 minutes so that flavors meld.
  3. About 15 minutes before serving add beans and let simmer.
  4. Serve with toppings of your choice and enjoy!

Confetti Chicken Pasta

23 Jul

Karl and I work at the same company, but we happen to be on opposite schedules.  Our company runs on a 9/80 schedule which means that we work 80 hours in 9 days instead of the usual 10 (40 hours per week).  The big benefit of this schedule is that you are off every other Friday.  The downside for us is that we have opposite schedules so if it is my Friday off, Karl is working and vice versa.

Since yesterday was my day off I wanted to make a really special lunch for Karl instead of our usual salad.  Just like Thursday night I kind of went through the kitchen and looked at what we had to make a new dish.  I knew that I would not be going anywhere – the temperature outside was something like 99 with a heat index of 116!  So first I thawed out a pound of chicken.  We used to eat chicken every day for dinner, but since we’ve been doing this “semi-vegetarian” thing chicken has not been getting much love!  Once thawed I cut it into small cubes.  While cutting I let some garlic and crushed red pepper simmer in some olive oil.  Then I tossed the chicken in and let it cook on medium-high heat.  It got seasoned with salt, black pepper, and a little onion powder.  Those are pretty much my go-to spices.

I decided that I wanted to make a pasta and chicken dish so I went to the cabinet to see what kind of pasta we had.  Turns out we had about 1/4 box of everything, but there were two boxes of elbows.  Perfect!  I threw the remainder of both boxes into boiling water seasoned with a little salt.

While the chicken and pasta were cooking I chopped up some veggies.  My picks were carrots, cucumber, and red bell pepper.  When the chicken was cooked all the way through I poured into a bowl.  I put another tbsp. of olive oil in the chicken pan and tossed in a BUNCH of spinach.  I just used what we had left in our container – probably 3 full handfuls.  Once that had cooked down a little I added the carrots, cucumber, and pepper.  I let that cook for about 5 minutes and in the meantime drained the pasta then tossed it in the bowl on top of the chicken.  Next I added a few handfuls of frozen peas and corn to the veggie pan.  Once those were heated through I poured the veggies on top of the pasta.  Add some fresh grated parmesan cheese then toss everything together.

Karl was really happy to come home to a hot meal!  He asked what I was going to call it.  I said Confetti Chicken Pasta because it looked like a party in a bowl.  He said I should call it something like Garbage Pasta because it literally was a bunch of leftover stuff that would otherwise just be tossed.  I think that Confetti Chicken Pasta is a much better name.

Oh, and it reheats really well.  I was really glad to find that out because I made a HUGE bowl of it.  I am actually munching on a bowl of it for lunch as I type.  So good!

I’m actually getting packed up to head back to my hometown for a conference Sunday-Thursday.  I am going to try to schedule another post to show up tomorrow or Monday, and I think I have convinced Karl to write a guest post!  I hope you all have a great weekend and a great week!

Black Beans and Quinoa Remix

22 Jul

Last night we had no plans on what to make for dinner.  This whole week has been a very unorganized or us.  We didn’t make any kind of a meal plan this past weekend and only went to Sam’s to pick up veggies.  Lack of organization is bad for us.  If we don’t know what we are going to make then we just don’t make anything and go out to eat instead.  Tuesday night we ate Jimmy Johns and Wednesday night we had Pizza Hut.  Last night as we were pulling out of the parking lot at work, Karl asked where we were going for dinner, not what we were going to eat.  My answer was home because I couldn’t stand for us to spend money on another high-calorie meal.  When he asked what I was making I told him I would figure something out.

So, when we got home I walked into the kitchen and took an inventory.  In cabinet number 1 I found quinoa, taboule (which we have yet to try) and 3 different kinds of pasta.  Cabinet number 2 had a can of black beans, a can of red beans, and 3 cans of chickpeas. And our fridge is always stocked with vegetables – lettuce, spinach, carrots, assorted bell peppers, and cucumbers along with the onions, grape tomatoes, and avocado sitting on our countertop.  So I just decided to throw a few things together…

First I cooked up some quinoa.  I always make half of what the box suggests (1/2 cup quinoa and 1 cup of water instead of 1 cup quinoa and 2 cups water) because when paired with other foods half of the cooking suggestion is more than enough for the two of us.  I seasoned it with some salt, black pepper, about a tablespoon of cumin, and about a teaspoon of chili powder.  While the quinoa was cooking I chopped up an onion and sauteed that with a couple big handfuls of spinach.

Onions and spinach with quinoa simmering in the background.

While those sauteed I went to work chopping other vegetables… an orange bell pepper, a baby cucumber, and some grape tomatoes.  At this point Karl decided to come in the kitchen and help by turning our two almost overripe avocados into a quick guacamole (one of his favorite foods!).  After the onions began to soften I added the pepper and cucumber and let them cook for a few minutes.  I took this free time to open a can of black beans and rinse and drain them.  My next step was to thrown in the beans, then the quinoa.  I seasoned the whole thing with some more salt, pepper, cumin, chili powder and a little garlic powder as well.  I let this heat up and then added the grape tomatoes.  It takes no time at all to heat up the tomatoes, so about a minute later I was plating this baby.  I served it with a dallop of gauc and a light squeeze of lime juice on top.  It was so quick, so easy, and so delicious.  Cooking a meal like that makes me realize how easy it is to make a healthy dinner every day.  I guess that means I have no excuse for going out to eat, even during the week?

This meal will definitely be a repeat item for us!  Karl loved every bite, but I guess what meal isn’t good with a little guac on top?  I’m sorry I don’t have a real “recipe” to share.  I really just eyeballed everything except for the beans (1 can) and quinoa.  But you should seriously give this a try.  Throwing a bunch of veggies together is very forgiving – they almost all taste good together!  I guess that’s why I do it so often!  Enjoy!!

Blueberry Sorbet

20 Jul

So a couple weekends ago Karl and I bought the ice cream maker attachment for our Kitchenaid Mixer.  The first recipe we tried was for vanilla ice cream.  That recipe taught us that we have to follow the instructions!  First, you have to freeze the bowl for at least 15 hours.  Second, whatever mixture you want to turn into ice cream has to sit in the refrigerator for at least 8 hours.  For all you engineers out there, you are basically doing a real-life heat transfer problem.  The closer the ice cream mixture is in temperature to the bowl, the faster it will cool down and turn into that good mixture.  Patience is definitely key to making ice cream!  Since that batch did not turn out as well as I would like, it did not make the blog cut.

Our next ice cream experiment was blueberry sorbet.  Have you noticed that July has been the month of blueberries?  I just couldn’t help but find recipes to use them since they have been so plump and tasty this month!  Just a word of warning – next month will probably be peaches and September will be apples :-).   Anyway, back to the sorbet!  We had a lot of confidence going into our second attempt with all that we learned making the vanilla ice cream.  I made the blueberry and simple syrup mixtures one night before bed and the next night after work we put it all together!  The consistency of the sorbet came out much better than our first ice cream attempt, so we knew we did something right!

20 minutes into the mixing  and we had some soft sorbet.  2 MORE hours in the freezer and we had perfect sorbet!  It definitely satisfies your sweet tooth.  In fact, I was surprised at how much sugar went into the 2 quarts of sorbet.  I was always under the impression that sorbet was healthier than ice cream, but I’m not really sure if that is true.  I mean, I know that ice cream has  a lot of cream, but the first batch I made only contained 1/4 cup of sugar.  The sorbet on the other hand is basically fruit (lots of natural sugar), water, and sugar.  So if any of you had the same misconception as me be sure and watch your portion size!

The recipe is surprisingly simple so if you have an ice cream maker you should definitely give it a shot!  And if you don’t have an ice cream maker, I’m pretty sure there are articles online explaining how to make your own ice cream without the ice cream maker.  So you should try it out too! 🙂

Blueberry Sorbet (taken from the Kitchenaid Ice Cream Maker Attachment Cook Book)

Blueberry mixture:

  • 5 cups blueberries
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 2 tbsp. lime juice
  • Combine blueberries, water, and lime juice in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade
  • Process the mixture until it is completely smooth
  • Strain liquid into an air-tight container.  Press slightly down to extract as much liquid as possible, but do not let solids pass through strainer
  • Refrigerate overnight or at least 8 hours.

Simple Syrup:

  • 2 cups sugar
  • 2 cups water
  • Combine sugar and water in a saucepan
  • Bring to a boil over medium-high heat
  • Cook and stir constantly for 10 minutes or until the sugar is completely dissolved.
  • Immediately immerse pan in an ice bath, stirring constantly until the mixture comes down to room temperature.
  • Place in an airtight container and refrigerate overnight

Blueberry Sorbet:

  • Combine blueberry juice and simple syrup just before mixing
  • Mix according to your ice cream maker’s instructions for 15-20 minutes – be patient!!

    Is it ready yet?

  • Freeze and allow to harden for 2 hours then ENJOY!