Hot Comfort

Chicken Stew

Chicken Stew

It’s the middle of July in the Midwest and usually that means temperatures in the mid nineties.  With this latest polar vortex (at least that’s what the news is calling it) we’re comfortably in the mid-seventies.  It’s crazy how much this feels like autumn.  Which explains why my tummy has been craving comfort food.  I made chili last week before the weather change and I felt a little silly but it was too tasty to care.  So today I decided that my soup pot needed to be fed something my family calls chicken stew.  It’s a hearty chicken soup made with flavorful dark meat and a creamy broth.  Like all really good soups it takes a little time but very little effort.  You could add noodles to this (I like Reames) but the chicken is so hearty just how it is I think the extra noodles are too much.  But I’ve done it and it’s still really good but more of a winter soup that way.


Chicken Stew


 

  • 6-8 chicken thighs- bone in and skin on
  • 8-10 cups water
  • 4 carrots diced
  • 2 large sweet onions diced
  • 1 whole jalapeño 
  • 1/2 pint mushrooms diced
  • 2-3 mini-cups of Knorr Chicken Stock gels
  • Salt/Pepper/Poultry Seasoning/Paprika/ cilantro- to taste
  • 1 block of cream cheese cubed
  1. Over medium high heat place chicken, skin-side down, in a large soup pot.
  2. Cook until chicken is about half done
  3. Add water, carrots, onions, and jalapeño 
  4. Bring to a boil and lower heat to a simmer for about an hour
  5. Remove chicken pieces and set aside to cool
  6. Remove jalapeño and discard
  7. Skim any excess fat from the top of the soup and discard
  8. Add mushrooms
  9. Once chicken is cooled, remove and discard skins and bones, and break chicken into medium pieces before returning them to the pot
  10. Season with the chicken stock gels making sure to dissolve each one in the soup before tasting and adding any more gels
  11. Season with the poultry spices, salt, pepper, and paprika to taste
  12. Remove about two cups of the liquid and add to the cubed cream cheese (I like to microwave this to help melt the cheese) mixing until smooth
  13. Add the cheese mixture back to the soup
  14. Add cilantro to taste
  15. Serve hot (I like to have mine with a little bit of hot sauce added)

Makes 10-12 servings

Summer Harvest Salsa

It’s no secret that I play in the kitchen when I’m bored or stressed. I’m recovering from a really nicely sprained ankle so I was home this weekend and not out playing at the lake watching fire works like so many other people. Absolutely ok since I got to try my hand at making fresh salsa. I have no idea why it’s taken me this long to attempt this sort of thing.

Looking around the kitchen I took quick stock of what I had to make salsa. I received some nice roma tomatoes and onions in my CSA basket last week. I had a few serrano peppers left over from some chili I made a few days earlier. And like any good home cook I’ve always got some garlic and cilantro on hand. Oh and cherries are in season and, more importantly, they’re on sale so I had some of those as well.

This salsa is seriously simple to make with my kick-ass blender. Toss everything in, turn it on, done. Not too hot… but it has a kind of back-of-the-palate growing heat thing going on that I happen to like.  The cherries give it a nice change of pace and just a touch of sweetness.

Ingredients (makes about 3-4 cups)

  • 3-5 tomatoes- I used Roma
  • 1 large sweet onion
  • 2 cloves garlic
  • 1-2 serrano peppers, stems removed
  • 1/4 – 1/2 pound of pitted sweet cherries (frozen can be used if you can’t find these fresh)
  • handful of cilantro
  • juice from a whole lime
  • salt and pepper to taste
  1. Roughly chop the tomatoes and onion into blender manageable size
  2. Add all of the ingredients to the blender
  3. Blend until desired texture is reached

You can chop all of the ingredients by hand but in this instance I liked the idea of something a little smoother than normal.

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Abso-freakin-crave This!

Lap band patients are supposed to focus on our protein intake. I’ve been slacking heavily lately so I’ve looked for inspiration all over the place. A classmate told me about something called the Dukan Diet. Essentially it’s 90% lean protein and 10% veggies once you get past the initial five days of only protein.

At first an all protein diet sounds dull and tasteless. But when I started looking around at recipes I found something that stood up and grabbed my attention immediately. Sauces! I adore sauces and since texture is such a factor for me and my lap band, sauces help good things stay down.

The first recipe I made was a Korean diced steak. A very tasty start but not the recipe I was the most excited about.

Enter Asian Sticky Chicken (originally found here but I adjusted it a bit for what I had on hand). I used chicken drummettes since it’s easier for me to find the right portion for my tiny tummy. The sauce is four ingredients… FOUR! I’ve never made wings before and this recipe makes me wonder why I haven’t tried them sooner.

Asian Sticky Chicken Wings

Ingredients
8-10 chicken drummettes
3 T balsamic vinegar
3 T low sodium soy sauce
2 T Brown Sugar Blend Splenda
2 t chili paste (I used Gochujang)

Method
•In a medium skillet lightly coated with cooking spray, brown both sides of the chicken (about 4 minutes per side).
•While that is browning, combine the rest of the ingredients in a saucepan, bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes, or until it thickens a bit.
•After your chicken has browned, add the sauce to the skillet and cook for another 5 minutes or until chicken is fully cooked. Be sure the sauce doesn’t get too thick or it might burn.

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Tasty Inspiration

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Today’s breakfast was inspired by a single new ingredient to my household.  I’ve used it for years but never purchased it until yesterday (I’ve had a few hookups keeping me supplied).  It is gochujang or Korean hot/red pepper paste.  I initially saw it used on a couple of cooking shows and got curious about it a while ago.  I was lucky enough at the time to have a Korean coworker who supplied me with my first taste.  I used it mostly as a background flavor for soup or marinades but however I used it I was hooked.  I’ve been getting more and more adventurous with spicy foods over the last year or so but having even a half a kilo (just over a pound) of this spicy paste in my fridge intimidated me.  Not the case any more.  I just had to decide what to make with it for my first real attempt at showcasing this delicious paste.

I remember seeing a recipe that caught my eye a while ago for shakshuka.  It is simply poached eggs in a spiced up tomato sauce that originates from the middle east, Tunisia to be exact.  Since I really love poached eggs I made a mental note to try this recipe but hadn’t done so until today.  I felt that with the cold rain that we have today I needed something a bit more comforting to add to the meal.  A toasted tortilla sounded great.  Then the picture of huevos rancheros popped into view.  Why not merge these two meals?  It should be mentioned that I’ve never actually eaten huevos rancheros let alone made them but they’ve always sounded tasty and simple.  

So here’s my translation of this blend of recipes.  I’m calling it shakshuka rancheros with a Korean kick.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 can diced tomatoes with chilies
  • 1 Tbsp gochujang (you could use Sriracha or something similar)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 tortilla 

1- Puree gochujang with the can of tomatoes with chilies until most of the chunks are gone but not totally smooth

2- Add puree to a hot skillet and cook until the sauce cooks down just a bit.  Don’t want this to be like soup. Keep at a simmer.

3- Carefully drop cracked eggs into the simmering pan of sauce.  Lower temperature and cover for about 3-4 minutes or until eggs are set to your liking.

4- Toast tortilla in a dry skillet or over the gas flame of your stove.

5- Plate.  Place eggs and sauce over the top of the tortilla and serve hot.

This is just a start of what you could do with this recipe.  I found the heat just right but you could always change up the kind of tomatoes you use or add more gochujang.  Cheese and beans could be added as toppings or even sour cream if you want to go that way with it.  It’s simple, cheap, and very tasty.

 

Thank You

Some major life changes have been going down in the ramblin’ house the last few weeks. The most prominent is that I am now living alone. I have my trusty guard dog of course but I am devoid of another human under my roof. It is a good change for me, I assure you.

Change brings many challenges and this change is no different. My first order of business is cleaning and reorganizing everything in the house. An act of reclamation, if you will. As I work my way through the house I am also making a list of repairs that need to be done. Here’s the fun part: my neighbors are helping.

I came home one day to find my neighbors from both sides talking about what they could do to help. They had already decided that they would repair some of my fence and fill in the giant ruts that repeated tow truck travel had created (much better than their bake a cake idea if you ask me). How do I thank them for their time and sweat? A bottle of booze perhaps? No, that was given after they helped shovel up the trash left behind in the basement and hauled out seven bags of it to the curb. This called for something better by far. This called for BBQ.

So I am up early with two pretty pig pieces on the smoker. I can’t wait to share this with everyone! They’ve already done so much for this damsel in not-so-much-distress I look forward to thanking them with a full belly of tasty pulled pork.

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Kitchen Tip

Quite a while ago I made a “roast” chicken in the crock pot and it was amazing. Well, to be honest the meat was amazing but the skin was so far beyond ick. No browning occurred which I expected but that also means soggy skin. However this post isn’t about chicken so much as it is about fish. The fish does share a common step in the prep though and THAT is what I wanted to share.

Foil crumpled into a loose ball and placed under meat will elevate said meat (chicken AND fish alike) so that it isn’t sitting in it’s own juices/grease. By cooking fish this way in the oven it saves the poor things from swimming in their own oils and keeps the coating crispy. And we all know fish need crispy coats.

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