Tag Archives for " meal ideas "

April 24, 2010

Chicken & Rice Soup Recipe & Unique Add-ins

This is a wonderful and creative recipe! I would have never thought of adding sweet potatoes to soup! Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

Soup season is almost over. I love a good, steamy bowl of soup or stew during the fall and winter months. But, I rarely make soups in the summer. It’s just too hot outside! However, these cool spring evenings or rainy spring days still call for a light and healthy soup. With all the pollen in the air, a warm bowl of Chicken & Rice Soup just might be what your sinuses or sore throat needs.
The spring veggies are in, so you could add asparagus or spinach to this easy-to-make classic. If you are lucky enough to have spring onions, you could substitute those to equal about 1 cup. Want to make it in your slow cooker?? After cooking the vegetables, transfer to your slow cooker with all other ingredients and cook on low 4-6 hours.

The trick to serving this soup in no time is to use chicken that you’ve cooked earlier in the week and picked from the bone. Brown rice takes about 45 minutes to cook, so make sure you cook this side dish earlier in the week, too. Brown rice makes this soup a healthier version because it adds fiber. You can easily make a double batch of this soup and freeze it flat in quart-size freezer bags to enjoy later or share with a friend who’s under-the-weather.
Give this feel-good soup a try with one of my suggested add-ins, or add something special to make a classic soup uniquely your own.

Chicken & Rice Soup

2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 c. chopped celery
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 carrots, thinly sliced
1 (49.5-oz) can low-sodium chicken broth
4 c. water
2 c. cooked chicken
2 c. cooked brown rice
½ t. dried thyme, crushed
salt & pepper to taste

Delicious Add-ins:
1 ½ c. cooked sweet potatoes, cubed…add about 5 minutes before serving to heat through
3-4 c. baby spinach or shredded kale…add with all other veggies
½ to 1 lb. fresh asparagus, ends trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces…add with chicken, rice, etc.

In a Dutch over medium-high heat, heat olive oil and cook onion, celery, garlic, and carrots until onions are translucent. Add broth and scrape bits off bottom of pot. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil, reduce to simmer, cover and cook 30 minutes. Serve with crusty whole-grain bread.

February 27, 2010

Slow Cooker Beef Stew Recipe

Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

Stew beef is on sale at the local grocery store this week.  You can make a number of things with this cut of beef including, vegetable beef soup, beef burgundy, beef stroganoff, beef pot pie, and beef hash, just to name a few.  But, my favorite is Beef Stew.  It’s an easy, slow cooker meal and can be doubled to feed a crowd.  Slow cooker meals are really great this time of year because we want comfort food to ward off the cold, but we generally don’t have too much time to prepare these nutritious meals for our families.  I often prepare this hearty stew during the winter months when friends come to visit.  Serve beef stew with cornbread, biscuits, or garlic toast for sopping up the delicious sauce.  Round out the meal with steamed green beans or a green salad. 

You can use chuck roast that has been trimmed and cubed for this recipe, or any recipe that calls for stew beef.  Both chuck and stew meat need to be slowly cooked in a liquid (braised) in order for the meat to be tender.  If you buy chuck roast or chuck steak, just ask your butcher to trim and cube it for you.  This will cut down on your prep time for this recipe.

You can use white or red potatoes in beef stew.  If you use white potatoes, peel them.  If you use red potatoes, don’t.

Enjoy the ease of preparation of my beef stew recipe and reap the compliments on this good-for-the-soul comfort food.  

Connie's Beef Stew

Beef Stew 

1 lb. beef stew meat or chuck steak, cubed
3 potatoes, peeled & cubed
3 carrots, peeled & sliced
1 c. pearl onions or 1 medium onion, chopped
5-6 sprigs fresh thyme
2 ½  c. beef broth, divided
1 T Worcestershire sauce
1 t. steak seasoning
1/4 c. red wine
2 T flour
1 c. frozen peas

Season beef with salt and pepper.  In large skillet, heat 1-2 T. Olive oil over medium-high heat.  Add seasoned beef and brown.  Place browned beef in bottom of slow cooker and top with potatoes, carrots, and onions.  Return skillet to medium-high heat and deglaze skillet with 2 c. beef broth, scraping up bits off bottom of pan.  Add Worcestershire sauce, steak seasoning, and wine to skillet; pour over vegetables and beef in slow cooker.  Strip leaves from thyme stems and add thyme leaves to slow cooker.  Stir, cover, and cook on low for 4 hours or until beef is tender and potatoes are cooked.  Combine remaining 1/2 c. beef broth and flour; stir until smooth and add to beef and vegetables with frozen peas.  Stir well; cover and cook on high 30 more minutes.  Salt and pepper to taste.

February 20, 2010

Crispy Roasted Chicken Recipe

Chicken has been on sale at most stores so this is a perfect time to try this recipe! Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

This week, I had lunch out with my friends.  We ate at a local restaurant that serves the moistest, most tender, classic Southern fried chicken.  I really wish I could fry chicken like my grandmother did.  She would soak the chicken in buttermilk and then coat it with a magical seasoned flour that I can’t seem to duplicate.  Of course, I have tried and tried to make my Grandma’s fried chicken, but as of late, I have not been successful. 

So, I’ve been working on roasting chicken so that the skin will be crispy out of the oven.  The trick is to increase the oven temperature just before the chicken is done.  A meat thermometer is a must when roasting meat.  Using one will insure that your meats are properly cooked and turn out tender and juicy as well. 

Whenever I bake chicken parts or quarters, I buy them when they are on sale, and I cook 3-4 pounds so that I will have leftovers to make another dish.  After your family enjoys Crispy Roasted Chicken, pick off all the leftover meat and either freeze it for a later use or make it into another delicious dish.  You could make Chicken ‘n’ Dumplings or Chicken Tetrazzini.  Baking chicken whole or in parts and then using the leftover meat to create a second meal is a smart way to cook since you are saving money and time.  In this recipe, I’ve included how to roast whole garlic.  Try this and you won’t believe how delicious your home will smell!   

Crispy Roasted Chicken 

3 lbs chicken parts or quarters (skin on and bone-in)
1-3 heads of garlic
1 medium onion, quartered
1 carrot, scraped and cut into chunks
3 T white wine
1 T fresh thyme leaves
1 T fresh chopped basil
1/4 c. butter, melted 

In a baking dish, place onion, carrot, and white wine.  Place chicken on top of vegetables. Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Combine thyme, basil, and butter; pour over chicken.  Prepare garlic heads and place in baking dish beside chicken.  (See tip below).  Roast chicken in 375 degree oven for 1 hour  (increase heat to 425 for last 10-15 minutes of cooking).  Bake until meat thermometer inserted into thickest part of thigh registers 180 degrees.   

Tip:  Roast garlic heads with chicken:  Cut off top 1/4 of each garlic head, and discard.  Place garlic heads, cut side up on aluminum foil and drizzle with olive oil.  Wrap foil around garlic heads, sealing foil at top.  Bake along with chicken for 1 hour.  Remove from oven and cool.  Remove papery skin, and squeeze out soft garlic into a small jar.  Seal and refrigerate; use within 2 weeks. Add roasted garlic to steamed vegetables, mashed potatoes, rice, or soups.  Spread on toasted bread or add to pasta sauce.

February 6, 2010

Game Day Chili Recipe

crockpot chili
Super Bowl is this Sunday AND we have a big, fat snowstorm going on. So, warm, comfort food is on the menu. Chili can be easily made in your slow cooker and then served three different ways. Make a big pot of chili and warm up with this homey soup after being out in the snow. Then, use the leftovers to make nachos and chili dogs for the big game.

Once you’ve eaten the chili as a soup, take the lid off the slow cooker and leave it on “low”. The chili will cook down and thicken as the liquid evaporates. Use the thick chili as a topping for hotdogs and to make your own nachos. Chili dog toppings to have on hand are spicy mustard, chopped onions, warm sauerkraut, sweet pickle relish, coleslaw, and of course, ketchup.

Making your own nachos is easy; just think layers. On the serving platter, spread tortilla chips evenly. Next, goes your thick, warm chili. Then, shredded cheese (cheddar, Monteray Jack, Pepper Jack, asiago, a mix…your choice). Top the cheese with finely, shredded iceberg lettuce, chopped tomatoes, sliced black olives, jalapeno slices, dallops of sour cream, and fresh chopped cliantro. This will make a beautiful presentation and guests will gobble it up!

Game Day Chili

1 lb. Ground beef, venison, or turkey
2 onions, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
28 oz diced tomatoes
28 oz water
½ lb dry kidney beans (soaked overnight) OR 2 (14.5 oz) cans
1 T salt
½ T chili powder
dash cayenne pepper

For topping: shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, crushed corn chips, fresh chopped cilantro, chopped jalapenos

Brown meat with onions. Drain. Place meat and onion mixture in crock pot. Add garlic, tomatoes, water, soaked kidney beans, salt, chili powder, and cayenne pepper. Cook on low 6-8 hours or until beans are soft. You may reduce water for a thicker consistency.

Serve with shredded Cheddar cheese, sour cream, crushed corn chips, fresh chopped cilantro, or your choice of toppings.


January 23, 2010

Cooking with Connie: Mexican Pork Roast

cooking with connie

Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Below she has fabulous tips for using a slow cooker. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

I love a good and easy slow cooker meal.  It’s the perfect supper for busy families who need a quick-to-serve meal or a meal that will be eaten in shifts.  I’m always trying different recipes in my slow cooker.  Many recipes can be cooked in the slow cooker with just a few alterations to the original recipe.  When trying a stove top or oven recipe in your slow cooker, follow these guidelines:

1.  The “Low” setting on the slow cooker is approximately 200 degrees in an oven.  The “High” setting is approximately 300 degrees in an oven.  In a slow cooker, 2 hours on “Low” equals approximately 1 hour on “High”.

2.  Cut large pieces of meat into smaller pieces to fit comfortably into your slow cooker.  This will help the meat to cook evenly and to the proper temperature.  Use a meat thermometer to determine doneness.

3.  Fill your slow cooker at least half full and reduce cooking times when using smaller quantities of food.

4.  Don’t peek.  Each time to open the lid, you allow heat and moisture to escape which increases cooking time by 15 minutes and dries out the dish.

5.  Dairy products tend to break down with extended cooking times, so add those at the end.

6.  Generally, you can adapt a favorite recipe (except soups) so that it can be made in the slow cooker by reducing the amount of liquid by about half. 

We eat only farm-raised pork and beef, so at this time of year, our freezer is full of fresh meat.  I wanted to try a pork roast recipe that I could easily turn into a Leftover Makeover.  My Mexican Pork Roast hit the nail on the head!  First, we savored this tender and flavorful roast with smashed potatoes and peas.  Then we enjoyed the shredded roast in tacos.  With the last 2 cups of chopped pork, I made my version of yakisoba, an econmical dish made with ramen noodles.  For those recipes, check out my blog Cook with Connie

Mexican Pork Roast 

2 T olive oil
1 medium onion, sliced
2 medium carrots, sliced
4 garlic cloves, minced
2 chipotle peppers, minced
½ c. water
½ c. chicken stock
1 t. chili mix
½ t. salt
½ t. ground cumin
½ t. dried Mexican oregano
1 boneless pork shoulder roast (4 lbs), trimmed and cut in half 

In a large skillet, saute the onions, carrots, and garlic in oil for 3 minutes.  Transfer to slow cooker; add chipotle peppers, water, and broth.  In a small bowl, combine chili mix and next 3 ingredients; rub over roast halves; place in the slow cooker.  *see note*  Cover and cook on low for 4 hours or until meat thermometer reads 170 degrees in center of roast.  Transfer roast and vegetables to a serving platter; keep warm.  Strain cooking juices and skim fat.  Pour into a small saucepan.  Bring to a boil; cook, uncovered, until liquid is reduced to about 1 cup.  Serve with roast and vegetables. 

*Note*  Sometimes, when trimming this roast, the meat will “chunk up”, depending on the marbling of the meat.  So, just firmly smash the seasoned pieces of pork together and place in slow cooker.  To test doneness, place the meat thermometer in the center of the largest piece of meat about 15 minutes before end cook time.

January 16, 2010

Cooking with Connie: Pork Chops in Wine Sauce

cooking with connie

Thanks to Connie for this recipe. Check out Cook with Connie for more fantastic recipes!

I was plundering around in my pantry and found a partial bag of herb-flavored stuffing mix left over from Thanksgiving.  I knew that it would go stale if I didn’t use it soon, and I needed a quick stove top recipe for supper.  So, I came up with Pork Chops in Wine Sauce.  It’s a variation of a dish Paula Deen serves in her restaurant, “The Lady & Sons”.  I chose to use 1/2-inch boneless pork chops because they cook quickly in the skillet.  You can try this recipe with boneless, skinless chicken breasts or chicken tenderloins; just increase the initial cooking time to 5 minutes on each side.  I use the fat free, low sodium condensed soup and lean pork chops, which cuts fat, sodium, and calories. 

As the dish cooks, it creates a delicious sauce that I love served over sauteed cabbage.  Cabbage is an inexpensive vegetable that is plentiful in the winter and can be cooked many ways.  Another yummy side to serve with Pork Chops in Wine Sauce is baby lima beans and corn.  Either way, you will love this dish, especially the ease of preparation and quick cook time.

pork chop wine sauce

 Pork Chops in Wine Sauce

6 boneless pork chops, 1/2-inch thick (or chicken cutlets)
1/4 c. white wine
1 can (10 3/4-oz) condensed cream of chicken soup
3 slices swiss (or provolone) cheese, halved
1 cup herb-flavored stuffing mix

 Season pork chops with salt and pepper on both sides.  Cook pork chops in large skillet over medium-high heat 3 minutes each side or until browned on both sides.  Combine wine and soup.  Top each pork chop with cheese; pour soup mixture over; top with stuffing; cover.  Cook on low heat 10 minutes or until pork chops are done.