Sunday, September 22, 2013

Smoky Chicken and Vegetable Chowder

I LOVE Chowder...especially in the Autumn time. We had a vegetable chowder at one of my Kitchen meetings which sparked the idea for this recipe, it's kind of a mix of that and my cheesy potato chowder but with LOTs of vegetables and chicken added. I thought I would make this with a smoky cheese and green chili's to just give it a different yummy flavor. I served this for lunch for my Dad's birthday with my homemade scones on the side. (recipe here) So delicious and so Fall-ish... Enjoy!

Smoky Chicken and Vegetable Chowder
Cook the chicken:
3 to 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1/4 onion (leave whole, just toss in for flavor, same with the celery)
1/2 stalk celery
1 teaspoon minced garlic
4-6 cups chicken broth, or 4- 6 cups water with 4-6 chicken bouillon cubes
Place all of the ingredients above in a large soup pot and bring to a boil. Turn down heat and let simmer until chicken is done (30 to 40 minutes). Let cook and strain the broth into another bowl, save the chicken on a plate, and toss the celery, onion, and stuff in your strainer. Chop the chicken into bite size pieces when cool.
Start the soup:
1 large onion, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
2 medium carrots, diced
1 large red or green bell pepper, diced (or 1/2 of each)
In a large soup pot or dutch oven, drizzle a Tablespoon or 2 of olive oil, heat over medium high heat until hot. Add the chopped veggies from above to the pot, and stir, let this cook over medium heat for a minute or two until the onion starts to sweat.
Add:
1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
2 smaller zucchini, diced
3 to 4 red potatoes, diced (depending on the size)
2 cobs of corn, cut off the cob (I had leftover, great way to use up)
1-4 oz. can diced green chilies
1/2 teaspoon smoked paprika
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4-1/2 teaspoon ground chipotle powder (optional) if you want it spicy
Stir and cook another couple of minutes until fragrant. Then add enough of your reserved chicken broth to just barely cover the vegetables. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and let simmer for about 20 minutes or until your vegetables are just tender. Add your chopped chicken and 1 Tablespoon dried parsley and let simmer while you make a cheesy white sauce.
To make white sauce:
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup flour
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt (or more to taste)
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 teaspoon smokey paprika
2 cups smokey cheddar cheese, grated (I usually find this by the specialty, gourmet cheeses)
In a medium pot over medium heat, melt your butter. Add the flour and whisk into the butter until it's bubbly and no lumps. Let this cook for 1 minute.
Add the milk while whisking so you don't get flour lumps. Stir and cook over medium/high heat until thickened. Add your seasonings and grated cheese. Continue to stir until cheese is melted. At this point taste, add more salt and pepper if needed and more smoked paprika if desired.
Stir this mixture into the soup and heat through. Taste and add more salt and pepper if desired. Serve with scones, crusty french bread or crackers. Enjoy!!

**If you have broth leftover, freeze in a Tupperware or Ziploc baggie when cool. Great to have on hand for another batch of soup!



Saturday, September 21, 2013

Baked Zucchini Fries

I love Fried Zucchini! It's my favorite appetizer at most restaurants, but they dip theirs in a thick breading and  fry (so delicious!) So when I ran across this recipe on pinterest I just had to try it! It's baked instead of fried and I LOVE Panko crumbs... they stay crispy! Who needs to fry zucchini when you can do this! It's also a lot faster to bake your zucchini all at once than to do different batches of fried--LOVED this recipe. I used a bit more Parmesan cheese and salt from the original recipe, I posted the amounts I used. Hope you enjoy as much as I did!

Baked Zucchini Fries
Ingredients
  • 1 lb. zucchini squash 
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour 
  • 1/4 tsp salt 
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs 
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese 
  • 1 Tbsp Italian seasoning blend
  • 1 large egg 
Instructions
  1. Rinse and dry the zucchini. Cut the ends off and then cut each one into strips, approximately ⅓ inch thick.
  2. Place the zucchini strips in a large zip top bag and add the flour and salt. Shake the bag to coat the zucchini in flour.

3. In a wide, shallow bowl combine the Panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and Italian seasoning. Stir to combine. In a second wide, shallow bowl, whisk a raw egg with about 1 Tbsp of water until fairly smooth.

4. Begin to preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cover a baking sheet with foil and then place two wire cooling racks over top. One by one, take the flour coated zucchini strips and dip them in the egg and then the seasoned bread crumb mixture. Place the breaded zucchini on the wire cooling racks. The wire racks keep the zucchini up off of the baking sheet and allows hot air to circulate underneath, which will prevent soggy bottoms. Also make sure there is a small amount of space between each strip to allow circulation.

5.Once all of the zucchini strips are breaded, bake them for approximately 15 minutes or until they are a medium golden brown color. Cooking time will vary with the thickness of your zucchini strips, so keep a close eye. Serve with your favorite dipping sauce! I like marinara sauce or ranch dressing! enjoy!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Sauteed Green Beans and Bacon




I ran across this recipe on Pinterest... there were a few different versions out there, so I took what I liked from a couple and did mine own thing. These are delicious as a side dish! Isn't everything better with bacon??

Sauteed Green Beans and Bacon 
  • 1 pound fresh green beans, ends snipped off and discarded, extra long beans, cut in half if you want

  • 2-3 slices of bacon
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic

  • Salt and Black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice 

METHOD
1 Heat a pot of salted water to a rolling boil (1 Tbsp salt for 2 quarts of water). Add the green beans and boil them for 4-5 minutes, until just tender enough to eat (you may have to cook longer depending on the particular green beans you have). Drain and set aside.
2 While the water is heating up to boil the beans, slowly cook the bacon until crispy in a large saute pan set over medium-low heat. Use a slotted spoon or a fork to remove the bacon from the pan. Set the bacon on paper towels to sop up the excess fat. You should have about one tablespoon of fat left in the pan. Pour off any fat beyond 1 tablespoon. (Do not pour the fat down the drain or you'll stop up your drain.) If you have much less fat than a tablespoon left in the pan, add a little olive oil or butter to the pan.
3 Once the green beans are cooked, saute them over medium-high heat for 1-2 minutes in the bacon fat. Dice the bacon and add to the pan  along with the minced garlic and saute another minute. Season with Salt and Pepper to taste, then toss with lemon juice and serve at once.
Yield: Serves 4 as a side dish.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Peach and mixed Berry Galette




I love Autumn! I love peaches and berries and everything that screams autumn. I ran across this recipe here and just had to give it a try! I did tweak the filling just a bit, (I added raspberries too), but followed the recipe pretty closely! You have to try this recipe, it was amazing and easy. I really liked this crust recipe. 
In case you don't know what a Galette is, it's a French term that refers to a variety of flat, round cakes, usually with a flaky pastry dough of some kind. The term is very broad though and includes a wide variety of desserts. But more often than not, it typically means a free form tart that is made with a flaky crust! I liked it because you don't have to try to form the crust into a pie pan, and rather liked the rustic pie look it had. AND best of all it was YUMMO! I suggest topping with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream while still warm. Enjoy! 

Peach and Mixed Berry Galette
Serves 6-8

For the Pastry dough:
1-1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 Tablespoon Cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon granulated sugar
10 Tablespoon cold butter, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
3-6 Tablespoons cold water

For the Fruit Filling:
2 medium size ripe and juicy peaches, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch wedges
1 cup fresh blueberries, rinsed and dried
1 cup fresh raspberries, rinsed and dried (you could also use blackberries if desired)
1/4 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 teaspoon lemon juice
pinch of ground cinnamon
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon butter
1 Tablespoon Milk
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar for sprinkling

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse together the flour, cornstarch, salt, and sugar until combined. Scatter the butter pieces on top of the flour mixture and pulse until it resembles coarse bread crumbs and the butter is the size of small peas , (ten to twelve 1-second pulses). Sprinkle 1 Tablespoon of water over the mixture and pulse for 1 second; repeat with the remaining water until the dough begins to form small curds and holds together when pinched with fingers. (Depending on the humidity in the air, you may not need all 6 Tablespoons of water--I did today however, very dry). Empty the dough onto a work surface. Using a bench scraper, form the dough into a mound about 12 inches long and 4 inches wide perpendicular to the edge of the counter. Starting at the farthest end, use the heel of your hand to smear about one-sixth of the dough against the work surface, pressing away from you. Repeat until all the dough has been worked. ( This technique is called frisage).  Gather the dough into another  mound and repeat frisage technique. Form the dough in to a 4-inch disk, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold and firm but malleable, about 1 hour.
Adjust the oven rack to lower-middle position and preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Remove the dough from the refrigerator. (if the dough had been chilling for longer than an hour, let it rest at room temperature for 15 minutes to become malleable). Lightly dust a large sheet of parchment paper with flour. Roll dough into a 12-inch round circle about 1/4-inch thick, dusting with flour as needed. Transfer parchment and dough onto a baking sheet and refrigerate until cool and slightly firm.
Meanwhile, gently toss together the peaches, berries, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. Sprinkle the sugar, cornstarch, cinnamon and salt over the fruit and gently toss to combine. Remove the dough on the baking sheet from the refrigerator and mound the fruit filling in the center of the dough, leaving a 2 1/2 -inch border around the edge. Cut the last Tablespoon of cold butter into small cubes and place on top of your fruit. 
Carefully fold one edge of dough over 2-inches of fruit, leaving a 1/2 -inch area of dough between fruit edge and inside edge of galette. Repeat folding around the tart, overlapping dough every 2 to 3 inches while gently pinching dough at the pleat, but without pressing dough into the fruit. Using a pastry brush, brush the dough with the milk and sprinkle with the Tablespoon of sugar. Bake for 35 to 45 minutes, the fruit juices should be bubbling and the crust golden brown. Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and cool for 30 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream!! Enjoy!!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad

I love fall... and harvest time and the fact that my garden seems to be exploding with produce. I have an abundance of cucumbers right now. I don't really like to make pickles since we don't eat them that much, but I got this recipe at the kitchen meetings I go to. This was supposed to be a zucchini salad but I thought I'd try it with cucumbers. It was good made with zucchini, but cucumbers are better! Love it! This is a refreshing side dish to serve with grilled meat. I grilled steaks and we had this on the side along with roasted potatoes. YUM! Would be good to take to a pot luck too! Enjoy!

Sweet and Sour Cucumber Salad
Servings: about 7

In a large bowl, empty one (1 oz.) package Dry onion soup Mix.
Pour 1/2 cup White Wine Vinegar over the onion soup mix and let stand for 5 minutes.

Next add:
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground Black pepper
1/3 cup vegetable oil (or olive oil)
2/3 cup cider vinegar
1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper
1/2 cup chopped celery
7 medium cucumbers (each about 5 to 6 inches long) thinly sliced

Toss to coat the vegetables with the vinegar mixture. Chill in refrigerator for 4 to 6 hours--stirring occasionally. Hint--I put mine in a large Tupperware bowl with a tight fitting lid, and every hour I would turn mine upside down, then the next time I'd turn right side up, kept doing that until I was ready to serve.
Drain off any extra liquid before serving.
Enjoy!!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Basil and Spinach Pesto

I LOVE pesto.. it's so easy to make and so good to just toss in pasta, or coat potato chunks in and then bake in the oven, or to use as a spread for chicken panini's... I could go on and on about pesto. I know... it doesn't look too pretty in my picture... but it tastes delish! I had a beautiful Basil plant with tons of big leaves so I just had to do something with it!
They did a mix and match recipe in my Food Network magazine  with different things to add to Pesto... This was my favorite way. I like to use half Basil and half Baby Spinach... not such a strong Basil flavor and a good way to get Spinach in your diet.  I made a couple of batches of Pesto, then I drop it by the spoonfuls on a wax-paper lined cookie sheet and freeze it. Then I take the frozen pesto from the cookie sheet and store in freezer bags in my freezer. When I need it, I grab some out and thaw out in a dish then I use however I need to. YUM!

Basil and Spinach Pesto
1/3 cup Walnuts (can use Pine nuts but they are expensive and walnuts work in Pesto)
3 cups Basil and fresh Spinach (I use half of each)
1/2 to 1 teaspoon garlic
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup Olive Oil
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes (optional) I put in one batch I made and it was delicious! I used the kind packed in oil so I used a little less Olive oil

Directions:
First, toast walnuts in a dry skillet until lightly browned. Let cool slightly then pulse in a food processor until finely ground.
Add Basil and Spinach, along with the garlic, salt and cheese. Also add your sun dried tomatoes if you're going to use them. Pulse to combine.
Now slowly pour in the olive oil as you pulse your pesto. Use more or less oil, you want a slightly loose spreadable pesto.
Yum!! You'll have about 1 cup of pesto.... use about 1/2 cup per pound of pasta.
I've also made a chicken, grilled pepper and mozzarella panini sandwich with pesto as the spread.
And I've tossed cut up potatoes with a couple of spoonfuls of pesto then poured out on a parchment lined baking sheet. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 20 to 30 minutes and serve alongside grilled chicken or steak.
Also toss with spaghetti or fettuccine and add slices of grilled chicken!. Lots of things you can do with pesto
Enjoy!