Easy Mid-Week Dinner: Zesty Chicken Soup

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The mid-week dilemma of planning something for dinner can be both challenging and frustrating. Rather than spending money on fast food or slamming together a PB and J. Try this very simple but extremely flavorful and healthy soup that can also be made in a crockpot (see crockpot notes below). I made this soup with medium salsa but you can use mild or hot depending on your tastes. In addition, you can add or vary the ingredients in this soup easily so use your imagination–sliced black olives, green onions, black beans, or stewed tomatoes are just some of the options. Sour cream, corn chips, and green onions would also make great toppings!

Zesty Chicken Soup

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 medium onion, chopped

2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, sliced into 1” cubes

2 cloves garlic, minced

16 oz salsa

4 oz diced green chilli

16 oz cannellini beans

16 oz canned corn

8 oz tomato sauce

32 oz chicken stock

1 bay leaf

1 tsp cumin

2 tsp dried oregano

2-3 big handfuls of fresh spinach

Salt and pepper to taste

Shredded cheddar or parmigiano for garnish

IMG_2767.JPGIn a large stock pot on medium heat, warm the olive oil and sauté the onions until translucent. Add chicken and garlic and continue cooking until browned about four minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, except the spinach. Mix well and bring to a low boil then reduce heat to low and simmer for and hour or so. Taste and season with more salt and pepper, oregano, and cumin, if needed. Just before serving remove from heat and add the spinach. Top each serving with fresh grated cheese.

Crockpot instructions: Cut the chicken into thicker larger slices (approximately 2″). Add all ingredients except the spinach to the crockpot and set on low for 6-8 hours. Add the spinach just before serving.

Prep Time: 25 minutes

Serves: 6-8

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Cream of Sorrel Soup

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The uncommon but extremely flavorful Sorrel is excellent raw in a salad or as an ingredient in this very humble soup. Sorrel is not often seen in stores but worth attention nonetheless. A slender herbaceous perennial and member of the Polygonaceae family Sorrel has arrow shaped lime green leaves with a mild taste of citrus and kiwi.IMG_4937

Cream of Sorrel Soup

1 leek, chopped

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

4 medium potatoes, peeled and chopped

4 cups chicken or vegetable stock

1 large bunch of Sorrel

1 clove garlic

1/2 cup heavy cream or whole milk

Salt and pepper to taste

sorrelSaute the chopped leek in the melted unsalted butter until tender and translucent. Add the  chopped potatoes and sauté a few minutes longer. Add the stock and bring to a low boil then reduce heat and add Sorrel and garlic. Continue cooking until potatoes are tender.

Puree in a blender or food processor then return to pot on low heat and stir in cream. Continue until warm throughout but be careful not to overheat or the cream will break apart. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with chopped parsley and a drizzle of olive oil, if desired. Serve immediately.

 

Serves: 4

Prep time: 15-20 min

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Classic Deviled Eggs

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As springtime and egg hunts approach, the classic deviled egg is synonymous with this time of year.  This deviled egg recipe will make good use of your Easter eggs but will also remind you of days gone by and hunting eggs when you were a child yourself.

Often, hardboiled eggs are ruined by over or undercooking and there is nothing worse than a mushy underdone yolk or or one that is dry and green on the outside. The key to the perfect hardboiled egg is very easy, if you follow these easy steps–add eggs to a saucepan with just enough water to cover. On medium high heat bring to a boil then turn off the heat and allow eggs to remain in the water for five minutes. Pour out hot water and replaceIMG_2726 with cool tap water. Allow to cool in water for about 15 minutes before peeling (or dyeing). The result will be a creamy yellow yolk that is tender yet not overcooked or runny in any way.

Classic Deviled Eggs

6 hardboiled eggs

1/4 cup mayonnaise

1/2 tsp dry mustard

1/2 tsp white vinegar

pinch of salt

1/4 tsp pepper

dash of red pepper sauce

Paprika

Slice hardboiled eggs in half lengthwise and remove yolks. In a small mixing bowl add cooked yolks and remaining ingredients except the paprika. Combine well with a fork until most of the lumps are removed.  I find it easier to transfer the egg mixture to a small plastic sandwich bag and snip the corner for an impromptu pastry bag. Gently fill each of the eggs with the filling and garnish with paprika.

Prep time: 15 minutes

Yield: 12 eggs

 

Corned Beef & a Guiness

St. Patrick’s Day is tomorrow and it’s time to cook the traditional corned beef. An easy way to slow cook your corned beef without any worry whatsoever is to use a crock pot. With theIMG_2716 addition of apple juice, the corned beef is guaranteed to come out perfectly tender and full of flavor every time.

Place the corned beef in a crock pot, sprinkle with the seasoning packet, and add just enough apple juice to cover. Cook on low for eight hours or high for four. When done you can transfer some of the liquid to a large pot on the stove to boil your cabbage, potatoes, and carrots but if your family is like mine they may prefer a corned beef sandwich on rye bread with a little sauerkraut, melted swiss,  and a touch of thousand island dressing. Don’t forget a crunchy pickle on the side!

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TGIF -Sparkling Raspberry Cocktail

Flavors of spring. Red raspberries, lemon zest, and bubbles of sparkling wine. Its Friday put your feet up and contemplate a relaxing weekend!

Sparkling wine

1 ounce raspberry simple syrupIMG_2662

1 lemon zest strip

Raspberries

Add 1 ounce raspberry simple syrup* to a flute then slowly fill with champagne. Garnish with lemon zest and a couple of fresh raspberries.  Enjoy!

*The key flavor ingredient in this cocktail is a very easy to make raspberry simple syrup.  Combine 1 cup water, 1 cup sugar, and 1/2 cup fresh raspberries in a small sauce pan on medium heat. Stir constantly until the sugar is completely dissolved. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature, then strain mixture into a jar or container and refrigerate until ready to use.

Sesame Peanut Noodles

Noodles in every way, shape, and form are my downfall! I can’t get enough of them and IMG_2675even loved eating leftover spaghetti for breakfast as a kid. OK, maybe I still do.  Sesame peanut noodles are a favorite because the thin flavor-packed sauce pairs well with a multitude of ingredients–bok choy, snow peas, spinach, grated carrots, bean sprouts, steak, chicken, shrimp…the list goes on. I used left over grilled chicken breasts and whatever veggies I had on hand for this simple dish. Sesame peanut noodles make a great weeknight dinner and you can bring the leftovers to work for lunch the next day–IF you have anything left over!

Sesame Peanut Noodles

1 lbs package of lo mein or spaghetti noodles

4 medium garlic cloves

1 Tbsp fresh ginger

5 Tbsp sesame oil, divided

2/3 cup creamy peanut butter

½ cup soy sauce

6 Tbsp rice vinegar

¼ cup brown sugar

2 tsp vegetable oil

2 cooked chicken breasts

1 bunch bok choy, chopped and white stems removed

½ cup red and/or orange peppers, matchstick slices

1 cup snow peas

6 green onions, sliced on the diagonal

Sesame seeds for garnish (optional)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook noodles al dente; drain and return to pot. Add 1 Tbsp of the sesame oil to noodles and toss.

Using a food processor or blender add garlic, ginger, peanut butter, soy sauce, rice vinegar, and IMG_2673brown sugar. Process until smooth, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

In a large frying pan on medium-high heat, add vegetable oil and sauté the cooked chicken and vegetables until the vegetables are crisp tender. Add the noodles, and half of the peanut sauce. Toss well then add remaining sauce. Transfer to a platter and garnish with green onions and sesame seeds. Serve immediately.

Serves 4

Prep time: 30 minutes

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Kickstart Your Week – Overnight Oats

A healthy breakfast is essential to a productive day. Try these tasty oats for a different kindIMG_2613 of breakfast meal or afternoon snack. Also called Summer porridge, these half pint canning jars are full of old fashioned oats, chia seeds, and cinnamon then blended well with a touch of maple syrup and coconut milk. Top them with your favorite fruit or nut combinations.  Chocolate chips would be a great addition.

Though the recipe calls for coconut milk you can easily substitute almond or soy milk. I found it easier to combine all of the ingredients in a wide mouth half pint jar rather than a regular mouth canning jar as pictured above.

Overnight Oats

½ cup oats

1 Tbsp chia seeds

pinch of cinnamon

½ cup coconut milk

1 tsp vanilla

1 Tbsp maple syrup

½ pint canning jar

Combine dry ingredients in a half pint canning jar then add syrup and coconut milk. Mix well, cover, and refrigerate overnight. The next morning add fresh or dried fruit, nuts, or any combination of your favorite ingredients.

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