Showing posts with label Random Recipes. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Random Recipes. Show all posts

Friday, July 29, 2011

Your Grandmother’s Chicken Soup Recipe

For many years I was afraid to make chicken soup. It wasn’t something we had a lot when I was a child (and when we did, I think it came in a can and it always involved noodles), and as I began cooking for myself soup-making itself was slightly intimidating. I mean, homemade soup? It’s an entire meal, not just one dish of a whole. What if I screwed it up? That’s a whole meal destroyed (or multiple meals when you take into account a whole pot of soup).

For years I avoided chicken soup, instead using my soup pot for boiling artichokes and upping my multivitamin dosage to deal with the evil that is the cold. When a sore throat had me down, I just microwave some chicken broth – a little protein without the work. Bland as hell, but it did the job.

Then a couple of years ago a friend scheduled a tonsillectomy, and in preparation had a bunch of us over to make soup she could freeze for her post surgery meals. By this point I’d mastered tomato soup (just add wine…and then more wine…that’s right, get in touch with your inner Julia Child) and a cream of asparagus. My soup paralysis was over, but my repertoire was still small. Besides she was going to be on pain killers, how much could she actually taste? I dutifully copied down my recipes with exact measurements and hauled my soup pot and produce over to her house.

When I arrived another friend was already there with her own hodgepodge of veggies and a package of chicken. We began to chop. For ever cup I carefully measured, she would drop in a handful of this or that into her pot. Potatoes, onions, garlic, carrots: in they went. And when I asked what she was making?

Chicken soup.

It was the first time I’d ever actually seen someone make it from start to finish. Soup making is rarely a short process – you want to let is thicken or cook down – so we spent the day watching movies and drinking wine while we chopped, sautéed, stirred and packaged. I learned that day that the key ingredient to chicken soup – good chicken soup – was time. Oh, and chicken. Everything else is up to you.

She wrote down the recipe for me, but it was more a list of possible ingredients and suggestions than instructions. Still, this was enough. Chicken Soup had been demystified and made accessible.

And with these ingredients, made very tasty.

About year, and many batches of soup later, I had a friend come over to deal with a laptop emergency. As he was trying to de-worm my computer I was cooking, and it’s only right to feed your computer tech, I dished up a bowl of soup and sliced up some crusty bread.

“How did you get my grandmother’s chicken soup recipe?” he asked.*

Your Grandmother’s (Or Your Mother’s, Or Your Aunt Minnie’s, Or Your Next Door Neighbor’s) Chicken Soup Recipe

(Remember: these are all more like guidelines anyway.)

The Ingredients:
  • 1 onion - diced
  • 1-2 Leeks - halved and sliced
  • 3-4 carrots – halved and hopped
  • 3-4 celery (ribs) stalks – thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic – diced
  • 1 package (3-4) chicken thighs (or breasts)
  • 1-2 containers chicken or vegetable broth (containers should be 28 to 32 ounces)
  • 3-4 small potatoes of your choice – cut into 1 in. chunks (I leave the peel on)
  • 1 handful parsley – chopped
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil

The Suggestions:

To the soup pot add the onion, leek, garlic, celery and carrots and drizzle with olive oil. Sauté over medium heat until the onions begin to turn clear. Add in the chicken, salt and pepper, and one container of the broth of your choice. Bring the mixture to an almost boil and then reduce down to a simmer.

Cover and walk away for 20 to 30 minutes.

Remove cover and check the chicken. If you can break it up with your spatula/wooden spoon/switchit then it’s time to add the potatoes and the parsley. Increase heat to a medium low and leave the lid off the pot.

Go do something else for another 10 to 15 minutes.

At this point you can add more broth (or water), if a lot of your liquid has been absorbed by your ingredients and let it cook a little longer to blend the flavors, or you can turn off the heat. Using two forks, shred the chicken into manageable pieces. Ladle into your favorite soup bowls and serve.

I suggest pairing it with crusty French bread and butter. Oh and wine.

Because everything is made better by wine. In this case a white would be appropriate.

Because you’re not adding noodles to this recipe** you can freeze it in individual sized containers and pull it out in the future when you don’t have time to prep the recipe from scratch.

For spice, serve with Aardvark hot sauce or Rooster Sauce.

*I think that all Chicken Soup recipes have the same point of origin…and no, it’s not the broth and the chicken. Although to be fair, there were two degrees of separation between the friend who taught me how to make chicken soup and the friend who was fixing my computer. Regardless, the recipe I was following that night was based on what I had in my fridge, so maybe his grandma’s chicken soup recipe really was in the all that and the kitchen sink style.

**If you are going to add noodles you will want that to be in the very last step and serve the dish after the noodles have cooked as long as their package instructs. You can also cook the noodles separately and add them right before serving. Personally I find that noodles get slimy too quickly in leftovers and I love the way that potatoes thicken the broth.

Please note: this will make for some mushy soup as the ingredients all cook for so long. This is the way I like my chicken soup because it feels so damn nice when you are under the weather. If you want your veggies to keep some form, let the chicken simmer in the broth and sauté your veggies on the side. Add them all together and allow to cook for 15 minutes or so to mingle the flavors.

Friday, July 01, 2011

Random Recipes: Black Bean, Avocado and Pepper Salad

Black Bean, Avocado and Pepper Salad
Serves 4| Hands-On Time: 10m | Total Time: 10m

3 Avocados – cut into 1 in chunks
1 Can of Black Beans – drained and rinsed
1 Red Pepper – sliced and cut into 1 in pieces
1 Yellow Pepper – sliced and cut into 1 in pieces
1 to 2 Jalapeño Peppers – de-seeded, and diced
¼ to ½ cup of cilantro – chopped
1 lime – halved
½ tsp of Salt

 Combine the avocados, beans and peppers in a bowl along with the cilantro. Sprinkle with the salt and squeeze the juice from the lime across the top. Toss until the juice and salt is evenly distributed.

Serve as a side or make it part of a burrito or taco night filling. The avocado and lime cut the spice of the peppers and make this a great dish to serve to anyone – no matter how they rate on the heat scale.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Random Recipes: Peach, Basil and Mozzarella Salad

The original version of this recipe in Real Simple, but its so...wait for it...simple that we just go by memory now. It’s fast, easy to make and a hit at every party. Perfect for any summer BBQ.

Peach, Basil and Mozzarella Salad
Serves 4| Hands-On Time: 10m | Total Time: 10m

3 to 4 Ripe Peaches
1 Cup Basil
1 container Ciliegine Mozzarella *
2 tablespoons Olive Oil
Pepper to taste (2 to 3 twists of the pepper mill)
A sprinkle of Salt (not required)

Remove the pits and slice peaches into bite size chunks. Rip basil into manageable size (1 by 1 in) so as to avoid awkwardness when eating. There’s nothing attractive about a leaf sticking out of your mouth as you chew. Slice Ciliegine Mozzarella in half (you can replace the Ciliegine with the Pearl size if you want to make this even quicker by negating the whole cutting process). Toss the peaches, basil and Mozzarella in a bowl with the olive oil and pepper until the olive oil is evenly distributed.

Serve and enjoy.

*Cherry Sized. It’s important to use the soft fresh mozzarella, just drain off the water.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Random Recipes: Chicken and Couscous

Chicken and Couscous
Serves: 4 as an entrée, more as a side| Hands-On Time: 10 minutes | Total Time: 25 minutes

1 package of Chicken breasts or thighs
3 tablespoons Olive Oil
½ to 1 Red Pepper
1 small package (or two handfuls) of Sugarsnap Peas
1 container of plum tomatoes
½ small container of crumbled feta (dry, not in brine)
1 cup Couscous
1 ½ cups water or chicken broth
½ to 1 cup torn basil (depending on how much you love it)
Additional Seasonings for the adventurous:
2 teaspoons Cumin
1 teaspoon Paprika
1 ½ teaspoons Curry


Heat 2 tablespoons of olive oil at medium heat in a skillet. Salt and pepper the chicken to taste (and add your choice of the additional seasonings), and then add it to the warmed oil. Thoroughly cook the chicken until it is golden brown on the outside and white on the inside. Remove the chicken from the pan and let it cool until you can handle it enough to chop it into bite sized pieces. Place these pieces in a large mixing bowl.

Heat the water (or chicken broth, depending on what you have on hand) and 1 tablespoon olive oil in a sauce pan on high until it comes to a boil.* Add the couscous, cover, and remove from the heat. Let the couscous remain cover for at least five minutes while you chop up the veggies.

Half the snap peas and tomatoes. Chunk the red pepper into quarter to half inch pieces. Add them to the mixing bowl with the chicken. Add the ripped basil.

Uncover the couscous and add it to the mixing bowl. Throw in as much feta as your little heart and stomach desires. Thoroughly mix all the ingredients together with a fork.

This recipe is perfect served hot with pita and hummus on a cold night (the better to pretend you are in a warm desert climate) or chilled as a salad at your next summer BBQ or potluck. If you choose to serve it chilled, prepare the recipe at least two to three hours ahead of time.

*I like to add 2 tablespoons of onion and jalapeños to my water to start so that the flavors are infused in the couscous. You don’t have to do this unless you want to.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Random Recipes: Maple Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

Maple Roasted Chicken and Sweet Potatoes

Original (practically verbatim) recipe from Real Simple:

Serves 4| Hands-On Time: 15m | Total Time: 1hr 40m


• 1 3 1/2- to 4-pound chicken, cut into 8 pieces
• 2 large shallots cut into 1-inch wedges
• 2 small sweet potatoes (or nicely colored yams), peeled and cut into 1-inch chunks
• 2 tablespoons olive oil
• 1 teaspoon kosher salt
• 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
• 3 tablespoons maple syrup
• 6 sprigs fresh thyme


1. Heat oven to 400° F.

2. Rinse the chicken and pat it dry. Arrange the chicken, onion, and sweet potatoes in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Drizzle the oil over the chicken and vegetables and season with the salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Drizzle with the maple syrup and top with the sprigs of thyme.

3. Roast, stirring the vegetables once half way through, until the chicken is cooked through, about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes before serving.

Perfect for a cold rainy day, or when it decides to hail in the middle of April.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Random Recipes: Cheater Pot Pie

Cheater Pot Pie

  • Olive Oil
  • 1 package of chicken breasts
  • ½ Onion diced
  • 1 to 2 leeks halved and chopped
  • 4 celery stalks diced
  • 1 bag Country style Potatoes
  • 3 to 4 carrots cleaned and chopped
  • Mushrooms (I use the pre-sliced baby bellas)
  • 2 garlic cloves diced
  • 12 to 18 ounces of Potato Leek soup (I use the Imagine low sodium – comes in a box)
  • 1 bag pre-shredded Tillamook Cheddar Cheese (I like sharp)
  • 2 sheets (one package) Pepperidge Farms Pastry Sheets
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter
  • Spices to taste: salt, pepper, thyme, marjoram, whatever sounds

In one pan, cook up the chicken breasts in a light drizzle of olive oil. Salt and pepper to taste (add thyme for additional flavor if you so desire). When the chicken is fully cooked, remove from heat and shred or chop it up into small pieces.

In another pan, sauté the potatoes and carrots in olive oil until they are almost fully cooked, then add the onions, leeks, celery, garlic, mushrooms. Again, salt, pepper, or add herbs to taste (I added thyme, marjoram and a light dusting of a mixed Italian herb). When finished, toss in the fully cooked chicken and mix together.

Roll out the Pepperidge Farm sheets. Layer the first sheet in the pie tin so that the extra dough hangs off the sides, then lay day a layer of shredded cheese (I like cheese so I added almost half the bag). Pour in the veggies and chicken mix, and then add ¼ of the remaining package to the top. Pour the potato leek soup over this and then tap/shake the pie tin gentle to help it settle throughout.

Now sprinkle the remaining cheese over the top because you can never have too much.

Wet the rim of the pie tin crust and then cover with the remaining sheet of dough. Cut the excess off so that only about an inch (or inch and a half) remains hanging over the edge of the tin. Rolls and pinch this up to create the pretty crust edge.  Create a vent in the top of the pie (I use a knife to cut in a decorative S). Brush the melted butter on to the pie top.

Bake at 400 degrees for 45 to 55 minutes (you will probably need to cover the pie with tin foil for the last 15 minutes to prevent burning).

Allow to cool for 10 minutes at least before serving.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Random Recipes: Baked Risotto

Here's the deal, I'm not the world's greatest cook (nor do I pretend to be), but I do enjoy cooking. And I enjoy sharing the recipes that work out. Lately though, I never have them on hand to share with someone at work when I want to, so I'm going to post them here. Now all I need is access to the internet.

The recipe below was adapted from the Baked Rissoto recipe from Williams-Sonoma. You can find the original here.

Baked Risotto

Serves 4 to 6| Hands-On Time: 30m | Total Time: 50m


  • 3 Tbs. olive oil
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 small onion minced
  • 1 ½ cups Arborio rice
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 ½ cups chicken broth (warmed – but only if you have time)
  • ½ - 1 cup grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese
  • 3 Tbs. cold salted butter, cut into 6 pieces  

Possible Vegetable Combinations

  • 1 – 2 cups mushrooms
  • 2 cups tomatoes diced (recommend a mix of yellow and red for color and flavor)
  • 1 ½ lb. asparagus, tough ends trimmed
  • 2 leeks, white and light green portions halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 tsp. chopped fresh thyme

  • Diced up pre-roasted Squash (this is the newest version of this, so you kind of have to wing it if you want to go the Squash route. I would suggest using delicata squash you've cut into rounds and roasted at 400 degrees for 20 minutes)


    1. Preheat oven to 400° F.
    2. Choose which vegetable combo you are going to enjoy:
      1. If leeks and asparagus: In 3 ½ qt. wide Dutch oven over medium heat warm 2 Tbs. oil. Add leeks (and onion); cook, stirring occasionally, until soft (about 8 minutes.) Add garlic, thyme and salt; cook 1 minute.
      2. If mushrooms and tomatoes: In 3 ½ qt. wide Dutch oven over medium heat warm 2 Tbs. oil. Add onion; cook, stirring occasionally, until soft (about 8 minutes.) Add garlic and salt; cook 1 minute. Add rice; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, 2-3 minutes.
    3. Add rice; cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, 2-3 minutes.
    4. Add wine; cook 1 minute.
    5. Stir in 3 cups broth, increase heat to medium-high and bring to simmer.
    6. Cover; bake, stirring once halfway through, until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed, 25-30 minutes. (You may want to add an additional 1 ½ cups of broth halfway through.)
    7. Meanwhile:
      1. If you chose asparagus: In a skillet coat asparagus with 1 tbs. oil; season with salt and pepper. Preheat pan over medium-high heat. Cook asparagus in batches, turning occasionally, until tender, 7-8 minutes per batch. Cut on bias into 2” lengths. Add to risotto with the 3 Tbs. of unsalted butter when you remove it from the oven.
      2. If you choose mushrooms and tomatoes: sauté tomatoes until soft in preheated grill pan (medium to medium-high) with 1 to 2 Tbs. butter (or you can substitute olive oil). Add to risotto at baking halfway point. Sauté mushrooms until browned slightly in preheated grill pan (medium to medium-high) with 1 to 2 Tbs. butter (or you can substitute olive oil). Add to risotto at baking halfway point.
    8. Remove risotto from the oven and stir in cheese, salt and pepper.
    9. Serve.