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.

Chicken With Lemon And Capers

This is one of my go-to meals. I served this chicken the other night with whipped potatoes and an arugula salad. It’s a great way to stretch out your chicken. I usually buy my chicken in bulk and freeze it in meal size portions. I had 2 thick chicken breasts, so I sliced them in half lengthwise to make 4 thinner breast pieces. They’re easier to cut if they’re still a bit frozen in the center (of course you can always buy the thin cutlet pieces to save a step). Pound each piece out so they are about 1/8 inch thick. This helps them brown evenly. Just place each breast between two pieces of plastic wrap and pound away. Once they’re all finished, set them aside on a plate.

I always set up my breading station before I start cooking, because the process all comes together quickly once you start cooking the chicken. Crack the egg and whisk with 1 tbsp warm water. This keeps the breading from being too eggy. In another bowl, combine both breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. I use two different kinds of breadcrumbs because the regular crumbs coat well, and the panko add nice texture. Mix well with your fingers.

Next, combine the chicken broth, lemon juice, and capers in a glass measuring pitcher. Now the sauce is ready to go as soon as the chicken is finished cooking. Set up the breading station right by the skillet so it’s easy to keep the process moving.

Heat a large skillet to medium-high heat. Add 2 tbsp olive oil to coat the bottom of the pan. Cook chicken, 2 pieces at a time, until browned on both sides and cooked through the center (Add more oil to cook the second batch).

Set chicken aside and tent with foil to keep warm. Time for the sauce! Lower the heat to medium and pour the liquid mixture into the saucepan to deglaze the pan. Scrape up any brown bits with a wooden spoon. Slowly sprinkle in the flour while whisking so no lumps form. Bring the sauce to a boil and reduce the heat to low. Simmer for about 15 minutes until the sauce is thickened. The longer it simmers, the thicker it will get. Plate the chicken and drizzle the sauce on top. Sprinkle with fresh parsley for a pop of color. Enjoy! 

Chicken With Lemon and Capers

Serves 4

2 chicken breasts (or 4 thin cutlets)

1 egg

1 Tbsp warm water

½ cup fine breadcrumbs

1 cup Panko breadcrumbs

1 tsp salt

½ tsp pepper

zest of 1 lemon

1 ½ cups chicken broth

juice of 1 lemon

2 Tbsp capers

2 Tbsp flour

2 Tbsp fresh parsley

Use a serrated knife to slice chicken breasts in half lengthwise. You should have 4 chicken breast pieces. Layer each piece of chicken between plastic wrap and set on a cutting board. Pound each piece out to about 1/8 in thick. Set them aside. In the meantime, set up the breading station. Crack the egg into a bowl and whisk with 1 Tbsp warm water. In a separate bowl combine breadcrumbs, salt, pepper, and lemon zest. Next, prepare the sauce mixture. Pour chicken broth, lemon juice, and capers into a glass measuring pitcher.

Once everything is ready, heat a large saucepan to medium-high. Coat the bottom with a thin layer of olive oil (about 2 tbsp). Use tongs to dip the chicken into the egg and then the bread mixture. Place chicken into your saucepan. You may have to cook the chicken in 2 batches. Cook until brown on both sides and cooked through the center.

Once chicken is cooked through, move to a plate and tent with foil to keep warm. Pour the chicken broth mixture into the saucepan to deglaze the pan. Scrape with a wooden spoon to get the brown bits off the bottom. Lower the heat to medium. Slowly add flour to the saucepan, whisking constantly until dissolved. Bring to a boil and lower the heat. Simmer about 10-15 minutes until sauce is thick. Plate the chicken and top with sauce. Sprinkle with fresh parsley.

Mexican Salad

I started a supper club with some of my close friends a few months back. Us girls used to teach elementary school together. We’ve all gone our separate ways but still have so much fun together. It’s nice to get together once a month and catch up. Our husbands even hit it off. How perfect!

Each month there is a theme set by the host. They are in charge of making a main coarse.  Not only does the food fit the theme, but our outfits do too! It’s a good thing our husbands get along; otherwise they wouldn’t agree to dress up for some of these themes! The other couples are responsible for a side, a dessert, and a drink. So this month we were in charge of the side. The theme was Snowed In and the main coarse was white chicken chile with corn bread. My challenge was making a side that went along with the main coarse. Chile’s one of those meals that can stand alone. So I thought a nice fresh salad to highlight the flavors in the chile would do the trick!

I used a bowl that’s pretty flat because all of the toppings are layered in strips over the lettuce. The best part of this salad is the presentation. Simple ingredients are transformed into a thing of beauty. I started by making my own corn and black bean relish. It couldn’t be easier. You add corn, black beans, red onion, salt, pepper, olive oil, and lime juice into a bowl and mix it up. You’ll have left overs, which is a good thing. You can put it on chips, in quesadillas, even in eggs!

The dressing I made can really be used on any salad, but it’s perfect with this one. The cider vinegar makes it crisp, while the chile in adobo gives it a smoky and spicy kick. You can add more or less chile depending on your taste. Put all the ingredients in a jar and shake it up. 

As for the salad, layer the toppings in three sections: avocado, tomatoes, and corn & black bean relish. I top with some chopped parsley. The colors are incredible. Taking the time to prepare your food makes it so much more fun to eat. After all, we do eat with our eyes first!

Chile Dressing

3 tbsp cider vinegar

4 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 tbsp chopped parsley

1 clove garlic, minced

½ chipotle chile in adobo, minced

½ tsp salt

¼ tsp pepper

Combine all ingredients in a jar and shake until well combined.

Corn and Black Bean Relish

11 oz frozen corn, thawed

1 can black beans, drained and rinsed

½ red onion, diced

2 tbsp lime juice

2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil

salt

pepper

Thaw frozen corn and drain excess water. Dice the red onion. In a bowl combine all ingredients and stir. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Mexican Salad

Serves 8

1 head iceberg lettuce

2 avocados

1 cup corn and black bean relish

1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved

3 scallions

lime wedges for garnish

Rinse and dry iceberg lettuce. Dice lettuce into small chunks. Layer lettuce in the bottom of a large bowl or serving dish. The toppings will cover the lettuce in three sections. Halve the avocados and remove pits. Score the avocado, just to the skin, into bite-sized pieces with a knife. Then, using a spoon, scoop avocado pieces out onto the first section of the lettuce. Halve cherry tomatoes and dice scallions. Combine the two in a separate bowl. Pour mixture down the center of the lettuce. Finally, spoon the corn and black bean relish over the last section of the lettuce. Place some lime wedges around the edges. Pour the salad dressing over and mix well. Enjoy!

Veggie Wrap

This is one of those “use up what’s left before it goes bad” meals. I made it as a quick lunch, and it was absolutely delicious! I had some collard green leaves which are perfect for wraps! I hold the thick stem with one hand and pull the leaf away. Only pull the thick part away, otherwise you won’t have a wrap. The bottom half will have a gap where the stem was. Set the leaf down with the short side facing you. Put a handful of arugula on the half without the gap. Then pile on the avocado, mango, and red pepper. Drizzle some lemon juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper over the top. Then fold the two short sides over the vegetables. Start with the long end and roll, just like a wrap. Cut in half on an angle and serve seam side down. 

Veggie WrapMakes 2 rolls 

2 collard green leaves, stems removed

1/2 cup arugula

1/2 avocado, sliced on a bias

1/2 mango, sliced thin

1/2 red pepper, sliced thin

2 tbsp lemon juice

2 tbsp olive oil

salt

pepper

Fold the collard green leaves in half and gently tear the large fibrous part of the stem out. Leave about 3/4 of the stem in tact so you create a bed for the vegetables. Lay the leaves down with the short side facing you. Place half of the arugula, avocado, mango, and pepper on each leaf. In a bowl, whisk together lemon juice and olive oil. Drizzle the mixture over each leaf. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Tuck the shorter sides over the vegetables. Begin rolling starting with the longer end. Cut on a diagonal and serve seam side down. Enjoy!

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.

Roasted Butternut Squash

My husband and I get the CSA farm share each week from a local farm. We’ve been getting it for a year now. I am utterly impressed with each bag of produce we get! The best part about it is that everything you get is in season! It’s deliciously fresh and flavorful. You really don’t have to do much to it. I like to eat most of it raw or with a little seasoning to bring out the natural flavors. In this week’s basket, we got 4 small butternut squash. I absolutely LOVE squash. I decided to make it simple and pull in the flavors of fall.They can be quite temperamental when you go to peel and cut them. I’ve found the easiest way is with my vegetable peeler. I peel them and then cut each end off. Then I cut them in half right where the squash starts to round. That way I have a section that’s easily cut into chunks and then a section that needs to be seeded and cut. I dice the squash into about ½ inch pieces. Toss it all on the roasting pan with an onion (because we all know onion makes everything better) and add the brown sugar, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper. About 5 minutes before it’s finished I toss in some craisins. They add a nice pop of flavor! Now for the good stuff! Let it bake and caramelize to chewy goodness. I like to toss it every now and then and taste as it cooks to make sure it’s the right consistency. Once you take it out of the oven it will be hard not to eat the entire bowl of squash!

Roasted Butternut Squash

4 small butternut squash
1 onion
1 tbsp brown sugar
1 tbsp maple syrup
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp salt
½ tsp pepper
1 C Craisins

Preheat the oven to 425. Peel the squash with a vegetable peeler. Cut the top and bottom off. Then cut in half where the squash starts to round. Cut the rounded section in half and scoop out seeds. Then dice into about 1/2 in cubes. Cut the onion into wedges. Toss the squash and onion onto the baking sheet with the oil, maple syrup, brown sugar, salt and pepper. Toss the veggies with your hands until they’re evenly coated. Roast at 425 for 40 min. Check every 15 minutes and toss with a spatula so the bottom doesn’t burn. The last 5 minutes add the craisins and toss with a spatula. Continue to bake until caramelized and tender. Enjoy!