Citrus Supper Club

Every month, our group of 8 friends get together for supper club. We rotate the host. Each host is in charge of picking the theme and entree. The other couples are in charge of a drink, side dish or appetizer, and dessert that go with the theme. This month we were the hosts. I chose a Citrus theme because it’s starting to get warm, and I love citrus!


My main course was lemon braised chicken. Here is the original recipe. My update recipe is below. This was for 8 people, so you could definitely cut it in half for a family sized meal.

Along with the chicken, I made lemon poppy seed biscuits (basic buttermilk biscuits but omitted cheese and added zest of 1 lemon and 1 tsp of poppy seeds) and an arugula salad with orange slices, slivered almonds, craisins, and a raspberry vinaigrette. Annie made Smokey Sausage cups with puffed pastry filled with orange marmalade and kielbasa topped with gouda cheese and more orange marmalade (they’re in the back corner of the plated meal).


Kirsten made the cocktail which was grapefruit vodka and seltzer. She garnished with fresh grapefruit slices and gummi rings. For us pregos, we had seltzer with grapefruit juice. It was equally delicious!

And last, but definitely not least, Missy made lemon bars topped with a lemon slice. They were so delicious and a perfect way to end our citrus supper!

Lemon Braised Chicken
Serves 8
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Ingredients
  1. 12 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs
  2. olive oil
  3. salt and pepper
  4. zest of 2 lemons
  5. 3 cloves garlic, minced
  6. 2 cups chicken stock
  7. juice of 2 lemons
  8. 2 Tbsp corn starch
  9. 2 Tbsp water
Instructions
  1. Preheat oven to 300F.
  2. Pat chicken thighs dry with paper towel
  3. Heat dutch oven to medium-high heat
  4. Drizzle chicken thighs with olive oil
  5. Season skin side with salt, pepper, and lemon zest
  6. Add chicken to pan in batches, skin side down, and sear on both sides until golden brown (2-3 min per side) Drain excess fat in pan as needed.
  7. Place seared chicken on a plate to brown remaining chicken.
  8. Remove all chicken from pan. Lower heat if needed.
  9. Add garlic and stir until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  10. Pour in chicken stock and lemon juice, using a wooden spoon to scrape the bits off the bottom of the pan as your pour.
  11. Bring stock to a boil and reduce to simmer.
  12. Combine cornstarch and water until smooth. Pour into chicken stock and whisk until smooth. Let simmer and thicken for about 5 minutes.
  13. Place chicken back into the pan and cover with lid.
  14. Cook in the oven for an hour.
  15. Remove pan from the oven. Serve warm with gravy and fresh chopped parsley.
Notes
  1. This can be prepared ahead. You can brown the chicken and set aside. While the pan is still hot, stir in garlic and deglaze with the chicken broth and lemon juice. Add in corn starch mixture and simmer to thicken. Set that aside until ready to braise. An hour before dinner, bring broth to a simmer, place the chicken in the pot and cover with lid. Place in oven for an hour and serve warm.
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Adapted from Damn Delicious
Little Baby Watson http://littlebabywatson.com/

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Apples, Apples, and More Apples!

I received an email last week from our farm share letting us know that Farmer Pete was on his way back from Hendersonville, NC with a truckload of honey crisp apples! I nearly jumped with joy! I immediately ordered a half bushel so we could pick it up with our delivery last Thursday! Since then, we’ve been eating apples like it’s going out of style!
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Now that the weather is finally cooling down, I am ready for some apple butter!!! In an effort to take the sugar out of our diets, I made a healthier, homemade version, of apple butter using our honey crisp apples!! I started by scrubbing all of the apples and cutting them into quarters. I removed the cores and stems. Then, I put them into the bowl of my slow cooker and threw in the rest of my ingredients!
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As the hours go by, the apples just melted and caramelized. I stirred the apples every few hours to keep them from burning on the bottom.
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After 20 hours on low, I ladled the apples into my Vitamix and blended it up. I spooned it into a mason jar with a lid and popped it into the fridge, after tasting it of course! It was DELICIOUS! Rich, thick, and appley!
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I adore everything fall. As an added bonus, this recipe made the house smell so good! It’s perfect for slathering on our spelt toast, mixing into oatmeal and smoothies, or even eating it by the spoonful! Happy eating!

Healthy Apple Butter

10 honey crisp apples
1/2 cup Coconut Sugar
1 cup organic apple cider
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
pinch ground clove

Wash all of the apples. Cut apples into quarters, and remove the stem and core. Place apples into the bowl of your slow cooker. Add in the rest of the ingredients. Give it a stir. Turn the slow cooker on low for 20 hours, stirring every few hours. Use a ladle to place the apples into a blender (or use an Immersion Blender). Blend until smooth. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to one month.

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Butternut Squash Soup

I LOVE this soup! All of my friends can attest to this. I make it every chance I get. We had it at our pumpkin carving party and at our early Thanksgiving celebration last night. I also make it for lunch every chance I get. I’ll make a big batch and just keep it in the fridge right in the dutch oven. That way I have a delicious lunch waiting for me every day! I think you get the point!

Stew and I went to Monza last weekend, our favorite restaurant downtown. The special that night was pumpkin soup. I HAD to get it to see how it compared to mine. I actually liked mine better!!! It was definitely tasty and had a great apple onion compote on top with some toasted almonds. But there is just something so addictive about this butternut squash soup!

It all started when I was home for lunch a few months back and the good old PB&J just wasn’t gonna cut it. I had all of the ingredients I needed to make this soup, so I gave it a whirl! I was so proud of the finished product! The thing that makes this different than all the other pumpkin or squash soups I’ve had is that it’s sweeter! It has a great balance of spice from the pepper and sweet from the maple syrup. Roasting the squash adds so much more flavor too! In my opinion, roasting the squash is the secret weapon. You can switch up the toppers to shake it up too. I topped this batch with a little toast with goat cheese, cranberry relish, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. SO GOOD!

You have to make it. It would be a perfect little appetizer for Thanksgiving or really any occasion! I’m telling you, you won’t be disappointed!


Butternut
 Squash 
Soupserves 6

3 cups roasted butternut squash (1 large or 2 medium)*

olive oil

1/2 onion diced

2 carrots, peeled and diced

1 celery stalk, diced

3 cups chicken broth

1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

1/4 cup maple syrup

2 tbsp 2% milk (optional)

salt and pepper to taste

*For the squash-Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Peel the squash (I use a potato peeler) and cut the ends off. Cut in half where the squash begins to round. Cut the round half in two lengthwise. Scoop out the seeds (just as you would a pumpkin). Cut the squash into about 1 inch cubes. Spread the cubes out onto two sheet pans. Pour 3 tbsp olive oil on each pan. Sprinkle with 1/2 tsp salt and pepper on each pan. Mix thoroughly with your hands so that the squash is evenly coated. Place in the oven for about 30-40 minutes. Use a spatula to move the squash around halfway through the cooking. Once they are fork tender, they’re ready!

Heat large dutch oven to medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent, about 2 minutes. Add celery and carrots. Cook until softened, about 5 more minutes. Add in the butternut squash, chicken stock, and cinnamon. Bring to boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer, covered, about 10 minutes. Working in batches depending on the size of your blender, transfer mixture to your blender and mix until smooth (you can add more stock for a thinner consistency). Make sure to hold lid securely in place with a dish towel over it. Transfer the blended mixture back to the pot over low heat. Add in the maple syrup, milk, and salt and pepper to taste. Just heat until warm enough to serve. I topped this batch with a little toast with goat cheese, cranberry relish, and a sprinkle of cinnamon. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

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Momma’s Chicken and Dumplings

I absolutely LOVE chicken and dumplings. I feel like it’s one of those warm-you-heart-and-soul meals. At least it always felt that way to me growing up. Now, I know it’s not quite cold enough, and I might be jumping the gun here, but I couldn’t help myself! I had some leftover chicken and I thought this was a great way to use it! My trick for shredding chicken, as I’ve probably told you too many times, is to pop the chicken breasts in a crock pot with water almost covering them. Put some salt, a bay leaf, and some peppercorns in there. Cook them on low for 3 hours and they should be SO tender and ready to shred. Then I use what I need and save the rest for another meal. It’s a good way to make your chicken go a long way. It also mixes up your meals so you don’t have to have leftovers! That technique makes this meal REALLY quick and easy to pull together on a week night!

Time for the soup! I pull out my already shredded chicken and cut up my veggies so I’m ready to go!

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onion until softened, about 2 minutes. Add carrots, celery, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaves. Sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken broth, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add in chicken and peas. In a separate bowl, heat 1 cup chicken stock and slowly whisk in 1/4 cup flour. Pour the flour and broth mixture into the soup (if lumpy, use a sieve to strain the mixture as you pour it in). Bring soup up to a boil and reduce to simmer about 10 minutes, or until broth is thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, prepare the dumpling batter according to package instructions. Here is my warning… I know you’re thinking “Bisquick!?” But honestly, I’ve tried all the homemade buttermilk dumpling recipes and they come out terrible! They taste like sticky gummy wads of dough. The Bisquick is the ONLY thing that has cooked up light and fluffy on the soup. Trust me!

Remove bay leaves. Gently drop spoonfuls of dough onto the soup about 1 inch apart. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the biscuits comes out clean. Spoon into bowls and enjoy!

Momma’s Chicken and Dumplings

Serves 4

1/2 onion, chopped

2 carrots, diced

2 stalks celery, diced

1/4 tsp thyme

salt

pepper

2 bay leaves

4 cups chicken broth (1 cup reserved)

1/4 cup all purpose flour

1 cup frozen peas, thawed

2 cups cooked chicken, shredded

1- 7.75 oz package Bisquick buttermilk biscuit mix.

For the soup:

Heat 1 Tbsp olive oil in large dutch oven over medium heat. Sauté onion until softened, about 2 minutes. Add carrots, celery, salt, pepper, thyme, and bay leaves. Sauté until vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes. Add 3 cups chicken broth, scraping any brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add in chicken and peas. In a separate bowl, heat 1 cup chicken stock and slowly whisk in 1/4 cup flour (use a sieve to pour mixture into the soup if it is lumpy). Bring soup up to a boil and reduce to simmer, uncovered, about 10 minutes, or until broth is thickened. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Meanwhile, prepare dumplings according to package instructions.

Remove bay leaves. Gently drop spoonfuls of dough onto the soup about 1 inch apart. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the biscuits comes out clean. Spoon into bowls and enjoy!

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Black Bean and Corn Summer Chili

As you may know, I’m pregnant! I’m not having any cravings, but usually by this time during the summer, I’m ready for comfort foods! I’ve been wanting things like chili, stews, pumpkin spice things, cinnamon etc. So I’m working on getting the comfort food taste but keeping that light and fresh summer feel. That brought me to this recipe! It’s hearty and comforting, yet light and summery! I even used the leftovers for a quesadilla and in scrambled eggs! You literally put everything into one pot, so it couldn’t be easier! Enjoy.

Black Bean and Chili Summer ChiliServes 4

Ingredients

◦   Salt/pepper

◦   olive oil

◦   1/2 onion, diced

◦   1 green bell pepper, diced

◦   1 clove garlic, minced

◦   1 28oz can whole stewed tomatoes (break them up into smaller pieces using your hands or potato masher)

◦   1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

◦   1 teaspoon chili powder

◦   1 teaspoon cumin

◦   2 cups fresh or frozen corn kernels

◦   1 avocado, diced

◦   ½ a lime juiced

◦   cheddar cheese, grated

Instructions

Heat oil in a large pot over medium high heat. Add onion and cook for 2 minutes. Add garlic and cook for 1 minute. Add green pepper and cook 2 more minutes. Add tomatoes, black beans, chili powder, and cumin. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add corn and return to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 more minutes. Season with salt and pepper. In a separate bowl, gently toss diced avocado and lime juice. Serve chili topped with avocado and cheese (For vegan version, use vegan cheese or leave it out).

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Vegetable Pad Thai

This is a delicious Pad Thai dish. It’s simple and SO quick to make. The step that takes the longest is soaking the noodles for 30 minutes. But other than that, it all comes together in a few minutes. It’s been so warm here, so I wanted something really light for supper. This was the winner! Thai food is one of those genres that I want to perfect. It’s the one food that’s usually not as good as when you buy it at a restaurant. But this one IS! I don’t like fish sauce, but you can definitely add that if you like it. A light refreshing summer supper! It hit the spot.

Vegetable Pad Thai-serves 4

8 oz dried flat rice noodles

2 Tbsp brown sugar

2 Tbsp fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving

3 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce

2 Tbsp vegetable oil

3 scallions, white and light green parts sliced

1 garlic clove minced

2 large eggs lightly beaten

1/2 cup fresh parsley or cilantro

1/4 cup chopped roasted, salted peanuts

  • Soak noodles according to the package instructions. Drain. In a bowl, whisk together brown sugar, lime juice, and soy sauce.
  • In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium heat. Add scallions and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for about 30 seconds. Add eggs and cook, scraping the skillet with a rubber spatula, until eggs are cooked through. Transfer egg mixture to a plate. **If you want to add protein, like chicken or shrimp, add it in now and saute before adding the noodles.
  • Add noodles and soy sauce mixture; cook, tossing constantly with tongs, until the noodles are soft and coated with the sauce (about 1 minute). Add the egg mixture and toss with the sauce.
  • Serve noodles with lime wedges, topped with herbs and peanuts.

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Chicken Couscous

I’ve been working on recipes that can make chicken more exciting to eat. I want to get the protein, but sometimes it can be so bland! This recipe is very unique. It has that warming element from the cinnamon and cumin and the spicy aftertaste of the cayenne pepper. It almost tastes like something I would make in the Fall…. except it’s 80 degrees out. But it was still good!

Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and saute on medium heat until chicken is browned on all sides. Those brown bits will all come up when you deglaze the pan (add the chicken stock) and they will add so much flavor!Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate. Add scallions, zucchini, and carrots and cook for 6 minutes. Mix the cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne pepper and saute with the vegetables for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, chickpeas, and craisins; bring to a simmer. Return chicken to the pot. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving bowl. Add the couscous to the liquid, cover and turn off heat. Let rest 5 minutes; fluff couscous with a fork. Serve chicken and vegetables over couscous, garnished with almonds and parsley.

Chicken Couscousserves 4

Adapted from Fitness Magazine 

2 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 cup slivered almonds

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1/2 tsp salt

1/4 tsp black pepper

1 bunch scallions, white and light green parts, thinly sliced

1 zucchini, cut in half lengthwise and sliced

2 carrots, peeled, cut in half lengthwise and thinly sliced

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground cumin

1/4 tsp ground cayenne pepper

1 1/4 cup low sodium chicken stock

1/2 cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained

1/3 cup craisins

3/4 cup whole wheat couscous

1/4 cup chopped parsley

Warm the oil in a dutch oven over medium-high heat. Season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Add the chicken to the pot and cook until browned, about 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken to a plate. Add scallions, zucchini, and carrots and cook for 6 minutes. Mix the cinnamon, cumin, and cayenne pepper and saute with the vegetables for 1 minute. Add chicken stock, chickpeas, and craisins; bring to a simmer. Return chicken to the pot. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer chicken and vegetables to a serving bowl. Add the couscous to the liquid, cover and turn off heat. Let rest 5 minutes; fluff couscous with a fork. Serve chicken and vegetables over couscous, garnished with almonds and parsley.

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Chicken Noodle Soup

There’s something about chicken noodle soup that has healing qualities. Stew caught that cold that’s been going around. He came home from work, and I could tell he was not well. So, I cooked up some chicken noodle soup. It was exactly what he needed.

I usually buy chicken in bulk and then freeze it in meal size portions in ziplock bags. I’ll take it out the night before I plan to use it and leave it in the fridge. By the next night it’s defrosted perfectly. Of course, if you don’t plan that far ahead, you can always take it out a few hours early and place the bag into a bowl of water in the fridge. Place something heavy on top to keep the bag submerged.

Now, this recipe calls for 1 chicken breast in the crock pot, but I did two and shredded them both. I put one in a tupperware in the fridge for quesadillas the next night. The more I can do to make cooking easier, the better. You can even cook the chicken in the morning so they’re ready when you make the soup. While those cook, I cut the veggies. I saute them once the chicken is almost finished cooking.

Then I cook the pasta, strain it, and put it into a bowl to sit while the rest of the ingredients are cooking. I add a tbsp of olive oil and mix it up so the noodles don’t turn into one big block. I found that the soup turns to mush if I add the noodles in and let it sit overnight in the soup. If I know I’ll have leftovers, I keep the noodles in a separate container and add it to the soup as I serve it. But if there are enough people  to eat it all in one sitting, add the noodles in.

When the chicken is finished cooking, shred it with two forks into big chunks. Add the broth and chicken to the veggies and let it simmer so that all the flavors blend together. Ladle the soup (and noodles if they’re separate) into serving bowls and top with fresh parsley. The fresh herbs add a pop of color. Feel better! 

Chicken Noodle Soup-serves 4 to 6

1 chicken breast, cooked and shredded

2 tbsp olive oil

1/2 yellow onion, diced

4 celery stalks, diced

4 carrots, peeled diced

2 bay leaves

1 tsp dried thyme

1 clove garlic, minced

5 cups low sodium chicken broth

1 cup small pasta noodles (I used ditalini)

salt

pepper

  1. Place one chicken breast into the slow cooker and add enough water to cover. Add 1 tsp salt, 1 tsp pepper corns, and 1 bay leaf. Cook on high for 2 hours. Once the chicken breast is fully cooked, remove from the slow cooker and shred using two forks. Set aside.
  2. Peel and dice 1/2 an onion and 4 carrots. Dice the celery and mince garlic clove.
  3. In a dutch oven or large pot, heat 1 tbsp olive oil on medium heat. Cook the onion until it is soft and translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute. Add the celery and carrots. Sprinkle salt, pepper, and thyme. Cook for 10 minutes until vegetables are softened.
  4. Add 1 bay leaf, chicken broth, and shredded chicken. Simmer for about 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.
  5. In a separate pot, cook pasta according to package instructions. When pasta is al dente, drain and place in a bowl with 1 tbsp olive oil to keep the pasta from sticking together. I keep the pasta separate until I serve the soup. Otherwise, the noodles absorb the liquid and get too big.
  6. Ladle soup into bowls and add pasta. Garnish with some fresh parsley.

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Sausage Tortellini Soup

This is one of Stew’s favorites. I love the flavor of the hot Italian turkey sausage. It’s less greasy than pork and it adds great flavor! 

I wait to add the zucchini and tomato until after the sausage cooks, because if you add it too early, it turns to mush. They only need to sauté for a few minutes, because when you simmer them with the broth they continue to cook.

Add the tomato sauce and broth and let the soup simmer, covered, for at least 20 minutes. The longer it sits, the more the flavors marry. Taste to see if you need more salt. I added a few teaspoons. It’s a big pot of soup!

I time it so I start cooking the tortellini when the soup is just about ready to serve. They only cook for about 7 minutes. Another trick is to add the tortellini to each bowl, rather than the large pot. When the tortellini sit in the broth, especially if you have left overs, they absorb the liquid and get really big! Top with a touch of parmesan right before serving! Perfect for a cool winter night.

Sausage Tortellini Soup

Serves 6-8

3 links hot Italian turkey sausage, casings removed

½ yellow onion, diced

1 clove garlic, minced

2 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

8 oz can tomato sauce

4 cups vegetable broth

8 oz package whole-wheat cheese tortellini

2 tbsp dried Italian herbs

salt

pepper

grated parmesan for garnish

In a dutch oven or large pot, sauté onion and garlic until soft, about 5 minutes. In the meantime, remove the casings from the sausage. Put them in the pot and break up with a spatula. Keep breaking it up into small pieces as it cooks, about 10 minutes. Once the sausage is cooked, add the tomatoes and zucchini. Season with salt, pepper, and Italian herbs. Sauté for another 5 minutes until vegetables start to soften. Add the tomato sauce and vegetable broth. Simmer, covered, for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. In the meantime, cook the tortellini according to the package instructions. Ladle the soup into bowls and add tortellini to each bowl. Top with grated parmesan cheese.

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