Monthly Archives: January 2006

Chicken and lemon soup recap

Here is the link for the soup I made last night:

Mediterranean Chicken and Lemon Soup

It was quite good. I think I’ll use a bit less lemon juice next time, although my husband liked it as is. My version was very lemony because I wanted a stew rather than a thinner stew and thus used less of the liquids.

I used only 2 cups chicken broth because I wanted a thicker consistency. Also, turns out that is all I had left! I recommend the Kitchen Basics brand that comes in an aseptic package if you don’t have any homemade broth on hand. I do make my own chicken stock, but it always when I am making chicken soup, so I never have any leftover. (For anyone living in Wakefield, MA, Farmland carries it.)

Although…since I looked for and found a bunch of recipes calling for precooked chicken yesterday, perhaps I’ll start making my own stock from raw chicken parts – save the stock for other things and freeze the cooked meat in portions for all the recipes I found that I now want to try. Well, we’ll see if I really do get that going.

Anyway – along with using less stock, I added an additional 2 Tbsps of rice, and my two cups of chicken weighed 12 oz, versus the 6 oz mentioned in the recipe. I used green pepper instead of red, and only about 4-5 oz of evaporated milk. As to the recipe saying to mix 1 Tbsp each evaporated milk and cornstarch to start the thickening base, I used 2 Tbsp of milk. To thick and lumpy with just one!

I also added a pinch each of salt and sugar (to mellow out the lemon – it worked a little bit) and added a medium plum tomato, sliced thin and cut into quarters or halves, about 10 minutes before serving time. About 5 minutes before, I added the basil.

I steamed up some swiss chard on the side and ended up with a tasty and healthy meal. Although it would have been lower fat if I have used low fat evaporated milk, but I didn’t have any on hand. (My cupboards are getting quite bare – must go shopping soon.) But, as I only used 4-5 oz, I guess that helped even it off.

So – a keeper, as my husband will say.

Recipe recap and playing “use these ingredients”

The Ricotta Pasta and the Bean and Tomato Stew were both really good. I think I’ll probably not make any changes to the stew in the future. Well, I suppose eventually I try some variation, but I liked it as is.

The pasta itself was excellent, but I think that I’d prefer it with either no meat or meat other than ground. I wasn’t crazy about the texture of the ground sausage. I bet it would be nice with chicken or seafood… And, Rachael has five variations in her cookbook, with the other four containing no meat.

I have not done a major grocery shopping for a while…Although, I did pick up some lovely looking swiss chard the other day from our local market. And it needs to be used…tonight! I also have the frozen chicken breast tenderloins from Trader Joes. And I still have fresh basil that is getting less fresh by the day. I’ll have to look, but hopefully, the rest beyond what I use tonight is still okay to freeze.

Anyway – I found a recipe for chicken and rice creamy soup flavored with a fresh lemon juice and calling for 6 leaves of fresh basil added at the end. I am going to adjust the ingredients to hopefully create a very thick stew, or “glop” if you will; thick enough so it can go on a dinner plate along with the swiss chard. I don’t have a red bell pepper, so will substitute green, and I think I with garnish with thin slices of a plum tomato for garnish since it will otherwise be white and green and I am serving it with the chard. Needs color! Too bad it wasn’t the red chard…hmmm, but I don’t think that would do it for color balance.

Although, why am I worrying about the color? My husband is colorblind… Good thing he knows to ask for help when it counts, given that he is an electrician! (No fear, he’s been doing it for over 30 years and hasn’t ever messed up!)

Okay, off to experiment. I’ll put a link to the recipe in my next post. I found it online but can’t find it right now. Luckily, I printed it out so I have the source.

Ricotta Pasta with Basil and Sausage plus a veggie stew

Time to experiment, again. This time I’ll be following the recipes without improvising, for a change, but I think I’ve picked two recipes that will compliment each other well. And, it’s my first time trying either recipe.

One is from Rachael Ray, # 193 (page 170) in the 365 cookbook – see link of cookbooks for publication details – and the other is from the Mayo Clinic Williams-Sonoma Cookbook. I’ll have to add that to my cookbook list link. I haven’t used it a lot, but just rediscovered it in my bookcase and think I’ll be trying it out more often, these days.

My inspiration for trying Rachael’s recipe is that it calls for 2o leaves of fresh basil, and yesterday, I bought a bunch of fresh basil just to have a few leaves that was called for in another recipe. (For those following this blog, I did her chicken/spinach burgers with mushroom sauce again – and again, very yummy! I used dried basil last time and it was fine, but I made the mistake yesterday of picking up a bunch of fresh basil and smelling it, and just had to buy it. What an intoxicating scent!)

Anyway – I am making Rachael’s Ricotta Pasta with Sausage. It is based on her Master Recipe called Ricotta Pasta with Grape Tomatoes, Peas, and Basil. I opted for the version with ground sausage because my husband, while able to deal with vegetarian lunches, is still really used to “meat” for dinner.

This sausage version calls for omiting the peas and tomatoes and adding the sausage. Hmmm, the recipe still calls for all that basil, which is really good for you, and also has fresh parsley, but I knew I needed a veggie dish to go with it.

I was originally going to make the baked tomatoe recipe from the Mayo cookbook, (which I have made before and liked a lot) but then realized that I had some lovely fresh green beans from our local, family-owned market (The Farmland, in Wakefield MA) and I needed to use them!

Luckily, I found a recipe for Green Bean and Tomato Stew in the same Mayo cookbook. It is very simple – grean beans, tomatoes, thyme, green onions, but I am thinking it will taste really good and light in comparison to the sausage, cheese, and pasta dish. And, not only does it have veggies, it will use those beans before they become useless for anything than veggie stock!

I bought a baguettes while at Farmland and will make garlic bread…or, at least offer it plain to be available for dipping in the stew, if I get lazy.

So, I have everything prepped except for chopping the tomatoes for the stew. It took me, probably, a bit over a half and hour just moseying around chopping stuff, etc. (Although I haven’t minced garlic for the bread yet, hence my lack of committment to the garlic bread idea.) Preparing just the green beans took about 5 minutes. You know, snapping off the ends and snapping them in half to approximate the directions saying to cut into 2″ pieces.

Anyway, time to go cook. I do love to cook. 🙂

First time using ground chicken – makes great burgers!

I just added a link to a page listing some of my favorite cookbooks, etc. Speaking of which, I tried another Rachael Ray recipe this evening. Chicken, spinach, and herb burgers. REALLY good! I only used a pound of ground chicken and adjusted the ingredients down and replaced the fresh basil with dried. Also, I only had a few shitake mushrooms on hand rather than the 2o button mushrooms called for to make the topping, but I just used them and reduced the garlic and oil amounts. I also didn’t have swiss cheese, but I had some gorgonzola (spelling??) on hand and that worked fine! My husband suggested using pita pockets next time because, being so juicy, using bread was a bit unwieldy, although, if I had buns or english muffins instead of whole wheat toast available, that might have helped! Not sure if I’d like the texture of a pita pocket with this, though…But I’ll try it next time.

I wonder if anyone is reading this blog? Just having it out here is getting me to write on a fairly regular basis. A pseudo audience, if you will. But, it would be fun to share cooking ideas with folks. Well, see what happens.

pork chops were great, but frozen entree tonight

No time to cook tonight (off to choir practice this evening and still need to catch up on the daily tasks for the business after a LONG day of more depreciation adjustments…) but the pork chops came out great last night.

I steamed some frozen skinny green beans from Trader Joes and put some of the pan sauce on them, too, when I served. I left the potatoes as is, since they were slightly crunchy and had enough butter in/on them already. All in all, a good meal, and it looked pretty, too. Good thing I had the four potatoes and two apples (and that was all the potatoes and apples I had). And, I always make sure to have onions and garlic around. Although, I guess I would have otherwise served rice and made a pinapple pan sauce since I always have rice and a can of pineapple around.
Anway – nothing fancy tonight. Although, the frozen lasagna (I forget the brand at the moment) has no trans fats and has very reasonable levels of fat, calories, and salt. Could be worse. 🙂 At least I can make a fresh salad to go with it.

Pork chops still being created…

Okay, maybe I should have precooked the apples, too…. Not really, they are just adding about 5- minutes to the deal as they cook down. After removing the chops, I added a bit more olive oil and sauted, covered, the onion and garlic for a few minutes until soft. Then added the apples and the stock, and just a little apple juice, too, maybe 1/4 cup. All is cooking away right now, covered.

Then, once the apples are pretty mushy, I’ll add a little cornstarch desolved in cold water (1 tsp to a T of water) and let it thicken. Then I’ll remove the sauce and saute the potatoes until a bit crisp. I nuked them for 3 more minutes just to make sure they wouldn’t take too long.

Pork chops were at around 150 degrees when I removed them from the pan and covered with foil to sit for a bit. Two pork chops, a little over an inch thick.

So, you think this is hard to follow? Wait until I try to write up the recipe!

quickie pork chops, after a long day of bookeeping!

Luckily, I have a I level of tolerence for repetative tasks. Upon learning more about depreciation via the GAAS method, I am adjusting my depreciation entries from January 2003. The “bank” books, not the tax MACRES records! Anyway, Steve (my husband) is hungry and needs to eat between pouring cement all afternoon and doing finishing work on it later tonight.
Good thing I had defrosted some thick bone-in pork chops! I’ve rubbed them with kosher salt and pepper, and will saute them in a bit of olive oil til done, remove and keep warm, and make some kind of pan sauce and potato thing.
I have already sliced thin (thank you, food processor) four small Yukon Golds, and peeled and sliced thin two apples. (I hate to peel apples, but I don’t have time to cook them long enough to really soften the skin this time.) I have a BIG clove of garlic ready to be crushed and a small onion halved and sliced thin. And, a 1/2 cup of chicken stock.

I pre-cooked the potatoes (great tip from Cooks Illustrated) by melting a T of butter in a bowl in the microwave, and cooking the potatoe slices 6 minutes on high after tossing them in the butter. I tossed them at the 3 minute mark, too.

So, see what happens….

chicken soup – great!

The chicken soup came out great last night. I added brown rice so I had to simmer longer than usual, but the bacon really added to the flavor. Today I do bookkeeping, so no food experiements today. Hopefully no number experiments, either. …

kick-ass chicken soup!

A while ago, I figured out that adding a can of white beans to chicken soup was a great way to fill it out if there was not much chicken left on the carcass.

But right now, I am creating what just might be my best version. I save the carcass from a 4 or so pound chicken that I roasted in the freezer, and when the mood strikes me, I pressure cook it for 20 minutes or so with whatever leftover fresh veggie scraps I have in the freezer. (If I’ve used my veggies for a veggie stock, I use the proverbial carrot, onion, celery, and a few cloves of garlic – and a bay leaf all in with the chicken)

Anyway – I had swiss chard, brocoli, kale, and shitake mushroom scraps, and added carrot, celery, onion, garlic and a bay leaf. Came out great!

Then, after picking the chicken bones I got about a cup of tiny pieces of chicken. So, of course, I will be adding the white beans. And, a brainstorm….I have two slices of raw bacon wrapped up in the freezer. I zapped them in the microwave for 5 minutes, chopped it up, and added it after I add carrots, celery, and cabbage (first time using cabbage in chicken soup). Added a little salt, a few whole garlic cloves, fresh ground pepper, and a little dried rosemary, oregano, and basil, and it is already fabulous!

I’ll be adding the can of beans, the chicken, and fresh parsley and some bits of kale green I salvaged from the kale I had frozen to add green stuff in a few minutes. I think the little bit of bacon is going add a really deep richness to the flavor – unexpected but compatible. I hope!

Well, next time I post, I’ll say how it came out. Always an experiement.