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Lighter Loaded Potato Soup

4 Mar

Since it’s March I would love to say that the balmy, winter weather is over, but I know better than that.  Unfortunately March can be a cruel month, leading you to believe that the worst is over and Spring has sprung, but that’s not always the case.  March is definitely one of those months that you have to pay close attention to the weather because one day it can be close to 70, and the next, low 40s.

It’s always a good idea to have a few quick recipes ready to go for those days that the weather is just a little more balmy than  expected – such as a quick, filling soup.  I first saw this soup a few months ago in a Cooking Light my boss discarded in the magazine pile at work and I knew I needed to make it.  The problem is – I lost the magazine for a few months and couldn’t remember where I saw the recipe.  Upon finding it while cleaning I knew I immediately needed to make this recipe.  I love anything potatoes and I was gearing up for a chilly weekend, and Saturday afternoon alone, so I figured what better time to try it out then a quick weekend lunch.  I have never been so glad to actually make something for a weekend lunch!  Not only was it delicious then, it made for great leftovers for work since it’s always a little chilly in the office!  And, bonus – not too bad for you!  I’m not saying this was an uber-healthy meal, however as starchy soups go this was a light version that wasn’t light on flavor by any means!

Loaded Potato Soup
Ingredients:
2 lbs red potatoes
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 chopped onion
1 1/4 cups fat-free, lower-sodium chicken broth
3 tablespoons flour
2 cups 1% low-fat milk, divided
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 bacon slices
1/3 cup shredded cheddar cheese
4 teaspoons thinly sliced green onions

Directions:
Pierce potatoes with a fork. Microwave on HIGH 13 minutes or until tender. Cut in half; cool slightly.

While potatoes cook, heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 3 minutes. Add broth. Combine flour and 1/2 cup milk in measuring cup; add to pan then add the remaining 1 1/2 cups milk. Bring to a boil; stir often, being careful to not let the milk boil over. Cook 1 minute. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream, salt, and pepper.

Arrange bacon on a paper towel on a microwave-safe plate. Cover with a paper towel; microwave on HIGH for 4 minutes. Crumble bacon.

Scoop potato into soup and discard potato skins. Coarsely mash potatoes into soup using a potato masher. Ladle soup into bowls and top with cheese, green onions, and bacon.

Source: Cooking Light, October 2010

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup

19 Jan

At the start of every year I resolve to start utilizing my weekends to prepare foods for the week, or to stock the freezer, and this year is no exception, especially with baby on board.  However, this year I have more realistic expectations for myself – I know I won’t spend 1 day a weekend, or even every weekend doing this, so why set myself up to break my resolution in 2 weeks?!  Basically I just want to be less lazy on the weekends and actually think ahead and prep when I get home from the store, take advantage of crappy weather to make a few freezer meals, etc.

When menu planning for the week I had to think of where to start with my resolution.  Well, I am sick of leftovers for lunch and have been wanting Chicken Noodle Soup so why not start there?  I like the recipe I’ve used in the past, but it’s just been missing something.  When searching on foodgawker I saw a fantastic looking picture from Smells Like Home that turned out to be a Barefoot Contessa recipe so I knew I couldn’t go wrong.

This recipe was everything I love about Chicken Noodle Soup, except it was homemade!  I love lots of celery and carrots in my soup, and by using all white meat chicken and whole grain noodles I made it even healthier!  The best part though was that it was quick and it freezes well!  The soup makes a great workday lunch, or companion to a grilled sandwich.

Classic Chicken Noodle Soup
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 1/2 cup medium-diced celery (3 stalks)
1 1/2 cup medium-diced carrots (4-5 carrots)
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 Quarts chicken stock
3 cups wide egg noodles
3 cups cooked chicken, diced
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Directions:
Heat oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add the celery, carrots, salt and pepper and cook for 10-12 minutes until softened.

Pour in the stock, bring to a boil over high heat, and add the noodles.  Cook the noodles for 10 minutes, then add the chicken and parsley.  Allow the chicken to heat through.  Serve hot.

Source: Smells like Home, originally adapted from Ina Garten, Barefoot Contessa Family Style

Beef Stew

10 Mar
I love comfort food; there’s no doubt about that.  However, with making great comfort food, you find yourself either using old family recipes or trying out a bunch until you find the recipe that is perfectly comforting for you and your family.
I love a good beef stew – always have, always will.  My favorite “classic” comfort foods are typically stews, roasts with lots of carrots and potatoes, chicken and dumplings, pot pies, etc… In my opinion slow cooked and in lots of flavorful juices is one of the best ways to eat carrots as I’m normally not a huge fan (unless they’re cooked in somekind of sweet, sugary substance but that kind of defeats the whole “eating veggies” thing!)  Ever since I made this recipe from Williams-Sonoma I’ve loved it, however I decided to tweak it some to suit it more to what I wanted that night.  There wasn’t a lot of variation made, however those adaptations made me LOVE, LOVE this recipe.
NEW Favorite Beef Stew
Ingredients:

2 lb. boneless stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 Tbs. vegetable oil
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
1 cup red wine (I used Cabernet)
3 Tbsp. flour
1 cup tomato sauce
14 oz. reduced sodium beef stock (one can)

4 carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces

1 1/2 c. diced frozen green beans
4 medium red potatoes, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
2 bay leaves
1-2 teaspoons dried thyme
Directions:
– S&P Beef to taste while heating 1 tbsp. vegetable oil in dutch oven over medium-high heat.  Add half of the seasoned beef to the dutch oven and cook until brown, about 3-4 minutes, use tongs to rotate and continue browning on the other sides, about 3-5 minutes total.  Transfer the cooked beef to a bowl and add 1 tbsp. oil, repeating beef cooking steps with remaining beef. 
– Reduce heat to medium and add last of the oil (1 tbsp.)  Add onions, S&P and scrape up brown bits from the bottom of the pan.  Cook about 5 minutes, or until onions are softened.  Add garlic, stir and cook about another minute. 
– Stir in flour and cook about 2 minutes.  Add in wine, scrape bottom of pan and cook until flour is dissolved.  Add in beef stock and tomato sauce, stirring to completely incorporate.  Add bay leaves and thyme to taste and simmer a minute or two. 
– Add beef, cut carrots and potatoes, stir tocombine, cover and simmer on low about 1 hour.  About 10 minutes before planning to serve, add frozen greeen beans, combine and allow to heat through before serving. 

– Remove bay leaves before serving. 
Source: adapted from Williams-Sonoma

Chicken Thighs in Riesling

21 Jan

In the winter most people want warm, comforting foods, and there is something about Sunday dinners.  My sister-in-law sent me this recipe and I immediately started planning on when to make it.  It seems like the perfect Sunday dinner but our Sunday dinners have been frozen pizza or something as quick and easy to make because my husband has had in-door soccer games.  I finally got to make this and I really liked it but the husband didn’t seem too wowed.  First of all, he doesn’t like when the vegetables are mixed in with the meat (so that means he doesn’t really like pot roast, stews, pot-pies, etc.) which is a bummer for me because I love those kinds of meals, and secondly, neither of us really eat dark-meat chicken.  Overall I still think this recipe was a winner, despite how picky we are.  Although, next time I may make it with B/S Chicken Breasts, just because that’s what I prefer. 

Chicken Thighs in Riesling
Source: Everybody Likes Sandwiches (as adapted from Gourmet)

Ingredients:
1 serrano pepper, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 t oregano
1/2 lemon, juiced
1/2 t ground cumin
4 skinless chicken thighs
salt & pepper
1 T olive oil
1 T butter
4 large shallots, roughly chopped
4 medium carrots, cut into 2 inch long rounds (I used baby carrots – the produce section at my grocery store is always a hit or miss – this weekend was an epic fail)
1/2 – 3/4 c riesling
4 potatoes, cut into quarters
1/4 c heavy cream
1/2 lemon, juiced

Directions:

1. Rinse and pat dry chicken thighs and add them to a bowl with the garlic, serrano peppers, oregano, cumin and lemon juice. Stir and let sit for 30 minutes. Heat olive oil over med-high heat, and add in chicken and marinating liquid. Brown chicken on all sides. Remove from pot and set aside.

2. Heat butter and saute shallots and carrots for a few minutes and add chicken back into the pot. Pour riesling over top and cover over med-low heat until chicken is cooked through, about 30 minutes or so.

3. Meanwhile, cook potatoes separately in boiling water until just tender. Drain and add to the chicken pot. Add in heavy cream and lemon juice, stirring gently so everything gets coated. Serves 2 very hungry people or 4 people with small appetites.

Beef Stew

16 Jan

I’ve never had much luck with stews and roasts – for some reason they just never have much flavor… that is until I discovered Williams Sonoma recipes online. The last time I made a pot roast it was from W-S and now this stew is also adapted from a W-S recipe… This stew was out of this world amazing and it was just what I was looking for. Full of flavor but still simple and comforting. DEFINITELY a winner!

Williams Sonoma 20-Minute Beef Stew

Ingredients:
3 lb. boneless stewing beef, cut into 1-inch cubes
1⁄3 cup all-purpose flour
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
3 Tbs. olive oil
1 1⁄2 cups red wine
1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
2 celery stalks, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
1⁄2 lb. new potatoes, cut into 1⁄2-inch pieces
1 Tbs. tomato paste
1 1⁄2 cups beef stock
3 fresh thyme sprigs
Directions:
-In a large bowl, toss the beef with the flour, salt and pepper to coat evenly.
-Set an electric pressure cooker to “brown” according to the manufacturer’s instructions and warm the olive oil.
-Add half the beef and brown on all sides, 3 to 4 minutes.

-Transfer to a bowl.

-Repeat with the remaining beef and transfer to the bowl.

-Add the wine to the pressure cooker and bring to a simmer, stirring to scrape up the browned bits.

-Add the beef, onion, garlic, carrots, celery, potatoes, tomato paste, stock and thyme and stir to combine.
-Cover and cook on “high” for 20 minutes according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
-Release the pressure according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If the liquid is too thin, transfer the beef and vegetables to a serving bowl, set the pressure cooker to “brown” and cook until the liquid is reduced to the desired consistency.

-Pour the liquid over the beef and vegetables and serve immediately.
Serves 6.
Williams-Sonoma Kitchen.

MY ADAPTATIONS: I don’t have a pressure cooker so I browned the beef in a deep skillet and then combined all ingredients in a stock pot to bring to a slow simmer for about an hour and 15 minutes.

Chicken Noodle Soup

16 Jan

Trying to beat the winter blues, a hefty cold or just want something heart warming and still figure (and budget) friendly? What’s more comforting than homemade Chicken Noodle Soup?! This soup was super simple, delicious and very budget conscious as it’s easy to freeze for future meals or individually for quick grab and go lunches.

Chicken Noodle Soup
Ingredients
48 oz. can reduced sodium chicken broth
1 lb. Whole Wheat sprial noodles (or any wide, short noodle of your choice)
1-2 cups chopped or shredded cooked chicken (rotisserre chickens are GREAT for this!)
2 carrots, peeled and chopped
2 stalks of celery, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup chopped white onion (or desired amount – I just like it for flavor but I’m not a huge onion person)
1 tablespoon of EVOO
1 tablespoon Italian Seasoning
S&P to taste
Directions
– In a large pot, boil noodles just a little less than directed on packaging, drain and set aside
– In the pot you’ll use to simmer, heat EVOO and add onion to lightly cook until transparent
– Add broth, chicken, carrots, celery and seasonings and simmer for 30-45 minutes
– Add cooked pasta and continue to simmer until it’s heated through

Not So Copy-Cat Turkey Chickpea Chili

28 Jul

Let me start out my prefacing how excited I was for dinner last night….. SUPER EXCITED. I’ve been battling a cold so even though it was hot out I still felt like I wanted some comfort food. My husband wouldn’t want soup so I thought chili. Well, 90 degree temps and my chili recipe didn’t sound appealing and I started craving Panera Bread’s/Saint Louis Bread Co.’s Turkey Chickpea Chili. The turkey and lighter broth make it more summer appealing. I love this soup/chili so I’d already looked up a copy-cat recipe online so all I had to do was get the ingredients! Well, in retrospect I should have just stopped by Bread Co. and picked up two bowls, or a bowl for me and an Asiago Roast Beef sandwich for my husband.

This recipe was really easy to prepare and looked amazing! It wasn’t. The only similarities to the Panera soup and this one is the look. After I let it simmer about 30 minutes I wanted to taste it… there was WAY too much chili powder so it had a rough & grainy after taste PLUS there was WAY too much brown sugar so it was too sweet. AND – I think there is too much lime. Anyway – just incase anyone wants to try to tweak this recipe or something here it is….

Copy-Cat Panera Bread Turkey Chickpea Chili
Ingredients
1 cup diced onion
1 cup diced carrot
1/2 cup diced celery
2 tbsp olive oil
4 cups water
3 cups or so leftover turkey meat (light and/or dark), tear/shred into 1/2-inch pieces1
(1 lb) can chickpeas (garbanzo beans), rinsed, drained
1 (1 lb) can kidney beans, rinsed, drained
1 (10 oz) can diced tomatoes with green chilies (Ro-Tel)
1/4 cup turkey or chicken broth (turkey jelly from pan)
1 (6 oz) can tomato paste
1 small lime, cut into quarters (squeeze juice into pot and then throw in)
1 tbsp lime juice (I omitted because this AND the lime sounded like too much – even omitted it was too much – IF I ever made this again I would just squeeze in the lime juice towards the end and leave it at that!)
1 tbsp modified corn starch (mixed in 1/4 cup water) (Did this maybe contribute to the grainy after taste – maybe not necessary)
3 tbsp chili powder (Too much!! Maybe 1-2 TBSP of chili powder and some Cayanne Pepper?)
2 tbsp brown sugar (Too much – maybe 1 tbsp and a pinch of cinnamon?)
1 tbsp ground cumin
1/2 tsp onion powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp salt and pepper each (or to taste)
1/4 tsp MSG (optional, for meatier taste) (Totally left out – gross!)
Directions
– In a large pot saute onions, carrots, celery in olive oil until onion is transparent.
– Add 4 cups water to pot. Stir in the remaining ingredients.
– Cover and simmer on low for 3 hours; stir every hour.
– Remove the 4 pieces of lime.
Makes about 8 bowls
To make this a little more edible I added more Cumin, some Paprika and some tomato sauce… helped a little but not enough. I guess this week I’ll need to go across the street and pick up some REAL Turkey Chickpea Chili for lunch one day!