Creamy Chicken & Mushroom Soup

On a cool night, this creamy soup is just perfect.

Chicken Mushroom Soup 5

I forgot to add the chicken tonight, and it was still delicious.  It could be completely vegetarian by substituting vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

INGREDIENTS:

    • 1 tablespoon olive oil
    • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
    • 3 cloves garlic, minced
    • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
    • 1 onion, diced
    • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
    • 2 stalks celery, diced
    • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
    • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
    • 4 cups chicken stock
    • 1 bay leaf
    • 1/2 cup cream
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary
  • slivered green onions
  • cooked and crumbled bacon

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper, to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in the stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken thighs, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in half and half until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, rosemary, green onions and bacoN, if desired.

Chicken Mushroom soup 2

Chicken Mushroom soup 1

I used crimini and white white mushrooms tonight, but you could use any mushroom.

Chicken Mushroom Soup 3

Chicken Mushroom soup 4

I love the way soups are taken over the top with the garnishes.

 

Cauliflower & Feta Fritters

O M G – the salty creamy bits of feta combined with the still slightly tender but firm cauliflower bits are enough to make me want these on a regular repeat!!  I often find cauliflower a bit of a hard sell amongst the family members, but this will win over anybody sitting on the cauliflower fence.

Cauliflower 5

These make a great appetizer or side dish.  Serve for lunch with a green salad, any way you try it, they are a winner.

1 small head cauliflower (1 pound florets, i.e. stems and leaves removed), cut into generous 1 to 2 inch chunks
1 large egg
1 garlic clove, minced
Few gratings of fresh lemon zest
3 ounces crumbled feta (about 1/2 cup)

1/4 cup slivered green onions (optional but I loved the colour and brightness)

1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon Aleppo pepper flakes; less if using regular red pepper flakes, which are hotter
3/4 teaspoon table salt or more to taste
1/2 teaspoon baking powder

Cook cauliflower in simmering salted water, uncovered, until tender, about 5 to 6 minutes, until firm but tender. Using a slotted spoon, transfer to a bowl of ice water to stop cooking. Drain well. Spread on towels to dry as much as possible.

Cauliflower 2

Ice water is key to making sure your cauliflower doesn’t get overcooked and retains a bit of texture. Plunge it in right from the cooking liquid.

Cauliflower 3

Let the cauliflower drain so they don’t get mushy. 

In the bottom of a large bowl, whisk together egg, garlic and lemon zest. Add cauliflower florets and mash with a potato masher until they’re crushed into an average of pea-sized pieces (i.e. some will be bigger, some smaller, but most will be little nubs).

Cauliflower 4

Sprinkle in feta and stir to combine egg mixture, cauliflower and feta. In a small dish, whisk flour, salt, pepper and baking powder until evenly combined. Sprinkle over cauliflower batter and stir just until combined.

Heat oven to 200 degrees F and place a tray inside. On the stove, heat a large, heavy skillet over moderate heat. Once hot, add a good slick of oil, about 2 to 3 tablespoons. Once the oil is hot (you can test it by flicking a droplet of water into it; it should hiss and sputter), scoop a two tablespoon-size mound of the batter and drop it into the pan, then flatten it slightly with your spoon or spatula. Repeat with additional batter, leaving a couple inches between each. Once brown underneath, about 2 to 3 minutes, flip each fritter and cook on the other side until equally golden, about another 1 to 2 minutes.

Transfer briefly to paper towels to drain, then the tray in the oven to keep them warm until needed. Once all fritters are cooked, mix yogurt with cumin, salt and pepper. Spread fritters on serving platter. Dollop each with cumin yogurt and sprinkle with pomegranate arils.

Do ahead: Fritters both freeze and reheat well. To warm and recrisp them, lay them on a tray and toast them at 400 degrees in the oven until crisp again.
Olive oil for frying

To serve

  • 3/4 cup plain yogurt
  • 1 tsp Italian seasoning
  • 1 tsp fresh basil
  • 1 tsp crushed pink peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp whole grain mustard
  • squeeze fresh lime juice
  • salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients, and season to taste with the salt and pepper

Full credit for this goes to Deb Perelman of Smitten Kitchen, I only made a few changes, and created my own dipping cream.   She is fritter obsessed, and I am quickly becoming just as obsessed with fritters.  Any vegetable seems to work as a fritter!  I think what sold these as being a bit different is the feta cheese.  Once you fry them up, that feta gets crispy and the flavour just intensifies.

Teriyaki Chicken Rice Bowls

Looking for a quick dinner?  When the grandkids are here, I sure am!  This was perfect, and the girls loved it.  They built their own bowls and tucked right in.

Teriyaki 2

Here was my surprise for the night – Sloan put this together, and then handed it to me.  “Here you go Nana, take a photo now …… it looks pretty good”.  Then she handed me her cilantro before adding her vegetables and digging in.  The cilantro, apparently, was only for the photo!  Yes, it is the only photo I got tonight.  I will have to do it again soon.

Do you know how easy it is to make your own teriyaki sauce?  This recipe is so quick and simple to do you will want to keep a jar of it in the fridge all the time.

TERIYAKI SAUCE

  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup low sodium soy sauce
  • 4  tbsp rice vinegar
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 – 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 tbsp cornstarch

Combine all ingredients in a small sauce pan and bring to a boil.  Allow to boil gently just until sauce has thickened.  Thin with a bit of water if necessary to have it sauce like, and not jelly like!

Teriyaki 3

This jar might not look like much, but this teriyaki sauce is the bomb!  

Cook rice according to instructions.

Cut about 1 pound of chicken breast into bite size pieces, and marinate with a few tablespoons of the teriyaki sauce, while you prep the rest:

Slice a variety of vegetables, whatever you like!

Teriyaki 1

This could so easily be a vegetarian meal – just serve with the stir fried vegetables, or use tofu in place of the chicken.

Prep some toppings:

  • rough chop on cilantro
  • slivered green onions
  • toast sesame seeds

Okay, now things come together quickly!

In a hot wok or skillet, heat a neutral oil and quickly fry the chicken just until cooked through.  Set aside.

Wipe out wok/skillet and heat a bit more oil.  Stir fry vegetables until just crisp tender.

Set everything out and allow everybody to build their own bowls.  Remember to set out your teriyaki sauce to drizzle over.

Fajita Seasoning

Fajita Seasoning 1

Having this seasoning mix on hand makes dinner easy breezy!  (lemon squeezy??) Make a double batch and you can keep it for months in a cool, dry spot.  Use it on vegetables, fish or meat alike, these flavours go so well together and make dinner quick and simple.

  • 1 tbsp chili powder
  • 1 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper

How easy is this? just toss it all into a bowl and thoroughly mix.  Do yourself a favour and make lots.

Fajita Seasoning

Just looking at this, you can tell it’s tasty, right??

This works with anything your imagination can come up with …. salad dressing or vegetable dip or seafood bake …. you let me know if you come up with more!

 

For fajitas:

  • protein (or not to make it vegetarian)
  • onions
  • peppers

 

To make fajitas, simply generously sprinkle slivered chicken (or any meat, seafood of your choice) and toss in fry pan until just cooked through.

Cook sliced peppers and onions separately so they don’t overcook.

Serve with:

  • lime crema (sounds fancy, but it’s just a squeeze of lime juice with sour cream and a bit of salt)
  • salsa
  • avocado
  • lime wedges
  • chopped cilantro
  • toasted pepitas (pumpkin seeds)
  • tortillas

You can so easily turn this into what is crazy popular right now,  power bowls!  Just serve with cooked quinoa or grain of your choice.

Turn it into a sheet pan dinner, also featured everywhere right now, just generously sprinkle everything with the seasoning and toss it into a hot oven (?400?).

Yes, you are welcome, you didn’t know dinner could be so quick, easy, healthy and delicious, did you???

 

Taco Seasoning Mix

Taco Seasoning 1

How pretty is this colourful group of seasoning?

Ever noticed how many ingredients you can’t spell or pronounce on those premade taco seasoning packs??  Stop the madness with this mixture.  A little bit of flour makes the ground meat have a wee bit of a saucy texture.  Don’t stop at ground meat for goodness sake (pun? word play?)..  Sprinkle this over vegetables and roast them up – drizzle with a little lime crema and you’ve got an amazingly tasty dish.

Ingredients

  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne powder (use less if you aren’t keen on the heat)
  • 1/2 teaspoon oregano

Mix all this up in a small bowl, and then have it on hand to season meat or vegetables.  You’ll be so glad you took a few minutes to get this ready.

Taco Seasoning 2

To use this for ground meat tacos, brown your meat in a fry pan, then add 2 tbsp mixture for each pound of ground meat and add about 2 tbsp water, stir and cook just until meat is cooked through.

If you want to leave the flour out altogether that is just great, that makes it even more versatile:

Salad Vinaigrette:  1 tbsp mix to 2 tbsp lime juice and 7 tbsp olive oil.

Vegetable (or chip!) Dip: 1 tbsp (or to taste) with 1/4 cup each plain yogurt and good mayonnaise.

Grilled Shrimp:   Sprinkle a generous amount over shrimp before grilling.

Taco Seasoning 3

I like to mix up 3 x this recipe and just keep it on hand.  Try it, you’ll do the same thing!

Massaman Curry

I’ve had a bit of a love for Penang curry lately, but tonight Massaman won the battle.  In no way is this totally authentic, since I wasn’t planning to put either carrots or potatoes in and those are both always found in Massaman curry.  Served with Sticky Thai chicken wings and jasmine rice this made a fantastic dinner, quick and easy but oh so tasty.

Massaman Curry

Tonight this was a vegetarian dish with cauliflower, broccoli and bok choy but you could easily add a protein if you like.  In Thai lessons we learned to add thinly sliced meat and then NOT stir it until it is cooked through.

Thai chicken curries are so simple to make, and come together very quickly.

Get everything ready first and when its time to cook it will happen before you know it!

  • 1/2 cup onion, roughly chopped (in Thailand, every cooking class I took had us cutting 1/2 an onion into 6 pieces)
  • 1 large garlic clove, sliced
  • 1 tbsp each minced ginger and lemongrass
  • 2 tbsp Massaman curry paste
  • 1 can coconut milk (don’t use the lite version)
  • 3-4 cups assorted vegetables, in bite size pieces

Mix together and set aside: 2 tbsp each fresh lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar

Heat peanut oil in saucepan until shimmering and add onion pieces, stir until slightly softened and add garlic, ginger, lemongrass and curry paste.  Saute to bring out the flavours in the curry and aromatics.  Add coconut milk and stir well.  Add vegetables and cook just until crisp tender.  Stir in the lime juice, fish sauce and brown sugar.

Thai food should have a great balance of sweet, spicy, salty & tangy.  If this doesn’t yet, keep making adjustments until it does!

 

Lemon Tahini Bok Choy & Peppers

Lemon Tahini Bok Choy & Peppers

This is a vegan recipe!  I know, maybe not that big a deal to some people but I’m sort of a carnivore.  This is so delicious it can be served alongside pretty much any dish you enjoy.  Truthfully, my carnivorous tendencies are changing, albeit slowly.  My mind set is still that I think of what meat or protein I want to cook, then I work the rest of the meal around that.  However …. I’ve noticed that ever so slowly, my meat or protein is shrinking.  Tonight I served this veg dish along with pork cutlet and tonkatsu sauce.  A 3 ounce pork cutlet served both my husband and I, without either of us feeling like anything was missing …. changes are coming and we are right on board.

SAUCE – serves about 4

  • 1 tsp toasted sesame oil (plus extra for cooking)
  • 2 tbsp tahini paste
  • 1 lemon, juiced (start with 2 tbsp)
  • 1/4 tsp chili flakes
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • bok choy, onion, red pepper
  • toasted sesame seeds for garnish

To make sauce, whisk together all ingredients until smooth, taste and adjust seasonings.  It is hard to correct if you have used to much lemon, so start with 2 tbsp and if you like it “lemony”, add a bit more.

Lemon Tahini Bok Choy

Wash veg thoroughly, (those bok choy have a tendency to hide grit).

Heat fry or sauce pan, add onion, and saute lightly, add bok choy and peppers, drizzle with a bit of extra sesame oil.  Cook for 4-6 minutes, just until crisp tender.

Remove from heat and drizzle sauce over top, then sprinkle with sesame seeds.