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Monthly Archives: February 2011

Homemade Condensed Cream of Chicken Soup

I’m trying out a new recipe later this week, and I’ll be sure to let you know how it goes. In the meantime, it gave me the chance to use a recipe I have for homemade condensed cream of chicken soup. I’m really not a fan of the gunk you can buy in a can, and this recipe is simple to amend to suit your needs.

The Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1/4 t onion powder
  • 1/4 t garlic powder
  • 1/8 t black pepper
  • 1/4 t salt
  • 1/4 t parsley
  • dash of paprika
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3/4 cup flour

The Instructions:

1. In a medium-sized saucepan, boil the chicken broth, 1/2 cup of the milk, and the seasonings. You can use fresh onions and garlic here if you’d like, but you should cook it a bit longer than with the dried/powder stuff.
2. In a bowl, whisk together the flour and the rest of the milk.
3. Pour the flour mixture into the boiling broth mixture and whisk over heat until it is bubbly and thick and smooth.

That’s it. You now have the equivalent of about 2 cans of condensed cream of chicken soup. If you want to make other varieties, like cream of celery, saute diced celery first, and then continue with the recipe. You can use vegetable broth instead of chicken. Depending on how flavorful your chicken broth already is, you may or may not have to add more seasonings. For example, if you are using homemade chicken broth (which is really rich with layered flavors from your chicken), you will have really flavorful condensed soup. But, if you are using broth from a can or a box or jar, it all depends on how flavorful THAT is. Make sense? For all of my condensed soup purposes, I’m using it as a binding agent, so as long as it’s chicken-y and doesn’t taste like paste, I’m good to go.

Honeycomb Brittle

honeycomb brittleIf you received a box of treats from me at Christmastime, it likely contained some of this honeycomb brittle. And yes, I made it myself (thank you, thank you). It was SO EASY, and so many people raved about how wonderful it was, so here is the magical recipe.

The Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cups sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 T baking soda
  • Cooking spray
  • Chocolate bar or chips  – this is optional, and I recommend a very good dark chocolate
  • Parchment paper
  • A candy thermometer. Do not be afraid.

The Instructions

1. Lay parchment paper on a cooking sheet and spray parchment with your cooking spray.
2. Bring the sugar, honey and water to a boil in a medium saucepan, stirring constantly.
3. Reduce heat to medium-high and insert a candy thermometer. Cook, without stirring, until the thermometer reaches 300 degrees.
4. Remove thermometer and remove the saucepan from the heat.
5. Whisk in the baking soda rapidly until combined and fluffy. Do not over-whisk. It will immediately get fluffy and golden, and that’s when it’s perfect.
6. Pour mixture onto the baking sheet without spreading it.
7. Let cool and then break into pieces.

You can be done now, or you can take it one step further. While the candy is cooling, gently melt your chocolate. Then, when the candy is cooled and you’ve broken it into manageable pieces (with your hands – nothing fancy), dip half of each piece into the dark chocolate and replace on the parchment paper. When you’re done, put the entire baking sheet into the fridge to set the chocolate. Viola! You have AWESOME homemade candy. It’s light, airy, melts in your mouth, and my family thinks it tastes like roasted marshmallows. I think it’s heavenly. I hope you do too!

Crispy Oven-Baked Chicken Legs

chicken legs bakedThese are so easy and so good. The next time you see chicken drumsticks on sale at the grocery store, grab a tray or two!

The Ingredients

  • 12 chicken drumsticks, skin removed (this is my least favorite part of cooking)
  • 2 cups of corn flakes
  • a pinch of cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 t pepper
  • 3 eggs

The Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees and spray a sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray (set aside).
  2. Crush the corn flakes in a gallon-size freezer bag (I roll them with a rolling pin) and add the cayenne pepper, Parmesan, salt and pepper. Mix well, and pour out into a shallow dish.
  3. Beat the eggs.
  4. Take your skinless drumsticks and dip each one into the egg and then coat with the corn flake mixture.
  5. Place drumsticks onto the sheet pan, making sure each drumstick has enough room to “breathe.”
  6. Bake at 350 degrees for about an hour (until meat is no longer pink, and the outside is golden and crispy).

Want to do the work once and dine twice? After the chicken is cooked, cool the drumsticks in the fridge. When they are completely cooled, put them into a freezer bag and pop them in the freezer. When you are ready for them later, take your frozen drumsticks and put them back on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 degree oven for about 30 minutes.

If I’m going to pull skin off of chicken, I’m going to do it once. So, I tend to double or triple this recipe and then enjoy my efforts time and again.

Tuna Croquettes

tuna croquettesWhen I make these for my kids, I don’t call them Tuna Croquettes. They are just “Croquettes.” Sometimes they refer to them as chicken, and I pretend like I don’t hear them. I just know the second they find out they are eating tuna, they won’t be eating these anymore.  In the meantime, this is a sure-fire hit with the kiddos, and I like them too!

The Ingredients:

  • a can of white albacore tuna (in water)
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • approximately 3/4 cup of bread crumbs (I eyeball it and base the amount on the overall consistency)
  • salt and pepper
  • olive oil

The Instructions:

1. Drain the tuna. If you have a cat, he/she will be there immediately. I give the water to my kitties because I am nice.
2. Combine the tuna with the beaten eggs and bread crumbs in a medium-sized bowl. Get your hands in there and moosh. If it feels too wet, add more breadcrumbs. Season with a pinch of salt and some fresh ground pepper.
3. In a skillet, heat olive oil (enough to coat the bottom of your skillet) over medium heat.
4. Shape your tuna/breadcrumb mixture into small hockey puck-type croquettes.
5. When the oil is hot, place croquettes in the skillet and  cook 2 to 3 minutes on each side, or until golden brown.
6. Remove croquettes and place on a cooling rack with paper towels underneath (to catch any excess oil)

This will feed my kids and I. If I was going to try to feed another adult, I would double the amount of tuna and add 1 egg. You’ll have to feel for the breadcrumbs. You’ll know when you do it. You want the mixture to stick together and not fall apart in the pan, but you don’t want it to be too dry.

My kids pick these up in their hands and dip them in ketchup. Michael will eat them topped with cheese and hot sauce. I’ve done both, but you can also serve them on top of a bed of greens with a splash of your favorite salad dressing. Or, on a bun like a sandwich.

Easy Cheesy Asparagus Risotto

Once you learn the basics of making risotto, it’s really fun to make new creations based on what you have on hand. I whipped this dish up this evening, and it was delicious!

The Ingredients:

  • 4 strips of bacon, chopped
  • 1/4 of a large yellow onion, diced
  • 1 C Arborio rice
  • 1/2 C dry white wine (or use broth – I did so tonight … no white wine in the house)
  • 5 C chicken broth
  • 8-10 stalks of asparagus
  • 1/2 C shredded cheese ( I used a cheddar blend … again, I had it in the fridge)
  • Salt and pepper

The Instructions:

  1. In a heavy, large saucepan, heat the olive oil over medium heat. Saute the bacon until it is brown.
  2. Add onion and continue to cook until onion is translucent, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add garlic and cook about 30 seconds.
  4. Add rice and stir – allow rice to absorb the olive oil.
  5. Add wine (or 1/s C broth); stir until the liquid is absorbed.
  6. Next, stir in the chicken broth. Continue cooking, uncovered, until the broth is absorbed, stirring occasionally.
  7. Meanwhile, take 3-4 stalks of asparagus and cut into small pieces. Put this portion into the blender or food processor and add olive oil, salt and pepper. Puree.
  8. When the risotto begins to get slightly creamy, add the asparagus puree.
  9. Chop the remaining asparagus until 1 inch pieces and add to the risotto.
  10. When the risotto is rich and creamy, stir in the shredded cheese and cook one minute.
  11. Dish into bowls and enjoy!

Michael added a dash of Cholula hot sauce to his dish … to each his own!

Curry Chicken

curry-chickenI realized I haven’t made this recipe in quite some time, and it’s so delicious …. I think it’s on our family menu in the very near future.

The Ingredients

  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 2 T curry powder
  • 1/4 t ground cinnamon
  • 2 T olive oil
  • 1 medium yellow onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 medium zucchini, thinly sliced
  • 1 1/2 cups chicken broth
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 t kosher salt
  • 1/4 t black pepper
  • Cooked white rice
  • Optional: 1/2 cup fresh basil leaves, torn; 1/4 cup almonds, roughly chopped

The Instructions

1. Rinse the chicken and pat dry with paper towels. Cut the chicken into 1-inch pieces and place in a bowl. Sprinkle it with the curry and cinnamon, toss, and set aside.

2. Heat 1 T of the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and zucchini and cook until softened, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate.

3. Heat the remaining oil in the skillet. Add the chicken and cook until browned on all sides, about 5 minutes total. Add the broth, cream, salt and pepper. Bring to a gentle simmer. Return the onion and zucchini to the skillet until the chicken is cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes.

4. Place cooked rice in individual bowls and top with your chicken curry. If desired, sprinkle with basil and almonds.

Substitution Ideas
You can substitute coconut milk for the cream …. eggplant for the zucchini … cilantro for the basil … and cashews for the almonds.

Vanilla Dutch Baby

dutchbabyThis is my new favorite thing to make for people for brunch. I’ve made it twice for guests, and two or three times now for Michael and the kids, and we’re usually fighting over the last piece.

The Ingredients

  • 3 T butter
  • 3 eggs
  • 3/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 3/4 C milk (heated for 20-30 seconds in microwave)
  • 1 T + 1 t sugar
  • 2 t vanilla extract
  • a pinch of salt 🙂
  • 1 pint (or so) fresh blueberries
  • 1/2 t lemon zest
  • 2 T confectioners’ sugar

The Directions

1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
2. Place the butter in a large, oven-proof saute pan. Put into the oven and melt butter.
3. Meanwhile, in a blender combine the eggs, flour, milk, 1 T sugar, vanilla and salt; blend until uniform.
4. Carefully remove the hot saute pan from the oven. Don’t forget that the handle is HOT. Somehow, I forget this and reach for the handle. Every time. 😦
5. Swirl the melted butter around in the pan to coat completely, then pour any excess butter into the blender and pulse gently.
6. Pour the batter into the hot pan and return the pan to the oven.
7. Cook for 20 to 25 minutes or until it begins to puff in the center and the edges turn golden brown.
8. While cooking, in a small bowl combine the 1 t sugar with the blueberries and lemon zest. Set aside.
9. Again, remembering that the saute pan handle is HOT (seriously), remove the pan from the oven and use a spatula to lift the Dutch Baby out of the pan and onto a cooling rack for just a few minutes. This allows the steam to escape and keeps the Dutch Baby from getting soggy.
10. Put the Dutch Baby on a large plate and sprinkle with confectioners’ sugar.
11. Cut into wedges and serve with spoonfuls of your blueberry mixture.

I have also made this with fresh strawberries AND with a strawberry syrup. Delicious!

Chile Pepper Knock-Off Salsa

salsaMichael is from Yuma, Arizona. From what I can gather, the only good thing about being from Yuma is a little restaurant there called Chile Pepper. Whenever Michael’s mom travels to Yuma and back, she brings back bags of burritos, rolled tacos, and containers of their signature salsa. A friend of the family developed a knock-off recipe that I have since improved slightly. Here it is:

The Ingredients

  • 8 1/2 ounces ultra crushed tomatoes – or, essentially, tomatoes pulsed to oblivion in the blender. The original knock-off recipe called for an actual 8oz can of tomato sauce and 4oz of water, but I have upgraded this to something that closer resembles an actual tomato. Whatever you use, the key is  that it’s tomato-y and it’s smooth. No chunks in this salsa.
  • 1/2 t salt
  • 1 T Mexican oregano.
  • 3 cloves of crushed garlic
  • 2 t chile de arbol crushed red peppers
  • 1/2 T dry minced onion

The Directions

I’ve only been able to find the chile de arbol as dried whole chilies, so I disintegrate those first in the blender. Then, I add the remaining ingredients and blend until the sauce is completely smooth. When I make this, I triple or quadruple the recipe, and it maybe lasts the week. Maybe.

Slow-Cooker: Chicken and Bean Tacos

After I have had a very long day at work, it’s a glorious feeling to walk through the door and smell dinner being cooked. In my house, the only way THAT will happen is if I have something going in the slow-cooker. I  love my husband, but unless you want him to make you a simple quesadilla, dinner’s not going to be ready and waiting.

The Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 6)
  • 3 T taco seasoning mix
  • 1 can (4 1/2 oz) chopped green chiles, undrained (omit if you’re not a fan)
  • 1 can (8 oz) tomato sauce
  • 1 t ground cumin
  • 1 t crushed coriander seed
  • 1 can (9oz) beans – I like to do black beans, but you can also use cannellini, butter or pinto beans
  • Taco shells or tortillas
  • Desired toppings, like shredded cheese, sour cream, salsa, lettuce, etc

The Instructions

1. Place the chicken in your slow cooker (3 1/2 – 4 quart size). Sprinkle with taco seasoning mix and top with green chiles.
2. Mix tomato sauce, cumin and coriander in a bowl and then pour over chicken.
3. Top with beans.
4. Cover and cook on low for 7 to 8 hours.
5. Shred chicken in cooker and mix with beans.
6. Serve as you like! Soft tortillas or crunchy – or even with chips like nachos.

It’s really SO easy and very delicious.