Meatball Soup

12:49 pm by

Mr is recovering from Christmas vacation – too much heavy food! So I opted for soup. I was planning to make Italian Wedding Soup, but didn’t have spinach, so I just winged it. The ingredients are approximate – I just added what seemed right for the soup, and served with garlic Italian bread.

Winter Italian Soup

  • 2 slices bacon, cut in half
  • 1/2 c sliced carrots
  • 1/4 c sliced celery
  • 1/2 half onion, minced fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced or minced
  • 2 cans diced tomatoes (I use S&W organic)
  • 2 containers chicken stock (or 8 cups water + 4 T chicken or veg¬†bouillon)
  • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tsp pepper
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp garlic salt (I used Trader Joe’s Rosemary Sea Salt)
  • 2 T Italian seasoning
  • 1 can canelli (white) beans, rinsed (I used S&W low-sodium beans)
  • 1 c frozen green beans
  • 1 pkg frozen meatballs (I used Trader Joe’s Turkey Meatballs)
  • 1 pkg tortellini or other pasta
  • 4 T shredded Parmesan cheese

Cook pasta as directed; my favorite method is to heat pan of water to boiling, then add pasta, cover and remove from heat; let sit for 20 minutes. If you’re using stuffed pasta (tortellini, ravioli, etc.), cook as directed on package.

Place bacon slices in large stockpot and heat on med-high. Cook bacon until done; remove and drain most of bacon fat into glass dish.

Saute carrots, celery, onion & garlic in bacon fat for about 3 minutes (add more fat if needed). When carrots are slightly tender, add about 1/2 c broth and let simmer on medium heat for 3 minutes.

Add tomatoes, stir and cook for 10 minutes.

Add remaining chicken stock, mushrooms, white beans and frozen green beans, cook for 15 minutes on medium heat, stirring often.

Add frozen meatballs & seasonings; cook for an additional 10 minutes.

Drain pasta and rinse with cold water. Ladle pasta into bowls; ladle soup on top of pasta and top with Parmesan cheese.

*NOTE: I am gluten-intolerant, so I skip the pasta. If you’re gluten-intolerant or on a low-carb diet, do the same. It’s still quite yummy!

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Garlic Mushroom Chicken in Balsamic Sauce over Parmesan Risotto

11:26 am by

Whew, that’s a mouthful! (hahaha)

I’m not sure why I keep posting chicken recipes – you’d think we never eat anything else! I think it’s because chicken is the most versatile main dish – you can do so much with it, unlike pork or beef or chicken. Since I love chicken and mushrooms, and my family loves cheese and whatever I do with chicken and mushrooms, we’ve got this yummy recipe!

Garlic Mushroom Chicken in Balsamic Sauce over Parmesan Risotto

Risotto is a notoriously difficult dish – it requires a lot of stirring and oversight. I’m not a patient person, so I made up a “cheater’s risotto” – it’s basically rice cooked in the rice cooker with a bunch of cheese. There’s stirrage at the end, but by then, the rest of the food is ready. :)

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Sunday Supper

7:14 pm by

I planned to make a blueberry pie today, but a nap got in the way… Still managed to make a yummy Sunday Supper. Thanks to J for the suggestion!

Parmesan Chicken with Polenta

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Spring Supper

2:49 pm by

Wow, it’s been a long time since I posted! I have a million pictures, but have been very busy with work and other activities (including: teaching Art Literacy, spearheading a Youth Group Room remodel, speaking at conferences, re-painting my kitchen, dealing with pets, dealing with tweens… :)

Anyway, it’s been a very wet spring here – we finally broke the 70-degree mark for the first time this past week (the 3rd WEEK OF MAY!). And today, wonder of wonders, the sun is out, the skies are blue. I rode my bike to my 12.30 class and the kids made fun of my helmet hair. :)

So, what do we do when it’s warm? We open *every window in the house* and enjoy/ignore the neighborhood sounds. Enjoy: birds, lawnmowers, happy kids. Ignore: neighbor revving car, leaf blowers, chainsaws, crying kids. And serve a light spring supper in keeping with the weather. Since my life dream is to spend a month in Italy and Greece, I’m serving up:

Lemon Pepper Pork Gyros with Homemade Tzatziki and Xioriatiki

(sounds fancy, eh? Skip to the bottom for the details. Note: you can also use thinly sliced steak or chicken in place of pork. Someone will suggest lamb and you go ahead & have fun with that. I cannot stand lamb as food, tho the little smelly things are adorable in person and not on my plate.)

an Angelicious recipe

Gyros (30 min marinade):

  • 1 1/4 lb. pork sirloin (or chuck steak, or boneless skinless chicken breasts), sliced into thin strips
  • 1/4 c extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c fresh lemon juice
  • 3 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 2 T chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

In a glass bowl, toss pork strips with remaining ingredients. Cover and let stand, at room temp, for 30 minutes to marinate.

Meanwhile…

Homemade Tzatziki – the easy way

  • 1 c plain yoghurt (Greek yoghurt works best, but regular yoghurt is fine)
  • 1/2 English cucumber, peeled, seeded & finely diced
  • 1/2 small cucumber, peeled, seeded & finely dice
  • 1 T chopped fresh mint
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced

Other:

  • 1/4 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper
  • 1/2 tsp dried parsley
  • flatbread OR pita bread pockets

In glass bowl, mix all tzatziki ingredients and stir well. Season with salt, pepper & parsely; stir, cover and set aside at room temp.

(Tzatziki – the not as easy, but seriously yummy way.)

Heat grill (I use my old, battered, but still reliable George Foreman!) and spray with non-stick cooking spray or brush with oil. Grill meat in batches, placing in a slightly warm oven to keep until ready to serve.

Let's get grilling!

While meat is cooking, slice pita pockets in half, or prepare flatbread slices for serving. Tip: warm your bread before slicing to prevent tearing; about 15-30 seconds in the microwave should do it.

To serve, stuff pita pockets – or layer on flatbreads – with grilled meat. Drizzle with about 1-2 T tzatziki.

It's pita time!

Xioriatiki (Greek Village Salad)

Super simple & super yummy!

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 head green leaf lettuce, shredded (by hand)
  • 3 tomatoes cut into wedges OR 1 pint cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 – 3/4 c crumbled feta cheese (TJs has a great Greek feta)
  • 1/2 cup pitted kalamata or black olives, drained
  • Capers (optional)

Mix first 3 ingredients in medium bowl; top with remaining ingredients.

(NOTE: You can also layer the ingredients (starting from the top) and drizzle dressing over individual plates.)

DRESSING:

  • 1/2 c extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 c lemon juice
  • 1 tsp dried or 1 T fresh oregano
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp kosher or sea salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground pepper

Combine dressing ingredients; shake well and let sit for about 15 minutes at room temperature. When ready, pour over salad & toss. Serve with gyros.

Pictures to come!

BTW, here is what you’re making:

Gyros = YEER-ohs. Essentially “Greek sandwiches,” consisting of meat and dressing (sometimes veggies) wrapped in flatbread. The typical ingredient is lamb. (yuck.)

Tzatziki = tsah-ZEE-kee. A sauce/dressing made of yoghurt and cucumber. Yummy & lowfat!

Xoriatiki = HOHR-ee-ah-tiki. “Greek Village Salad” or “Traditional Greek Salad.” A very simple and easy to prepare salad that brings out the true flavors of Greek food. Serve as a main dish with a nice, crusty bread, or as a side to dish with chicken, steak, seafood or – as above – gyros! The salad is typically made with chunks or slabs of feta, rather than crumbled, but I’m cooking for a family and chunks of feta do not live in my fridge.

Last but not least: this is a very kid-friendly recipe. The gyros are mild, minus “scary” ingredients and plus the fun of folded sandwiches. The tzatziki is smooth and creamy – again, nothing scary – and the salad is very basic (just watch out for the capers, some kids think they look like fish eyes. Some kids who ¬†may have once upon time been, um, me).

Happy spring!

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Roast Chicken

8:52 pm by

Oh, no, not another chicken recipe!

Oh, yes, another chicken recipe.

What can I say? I love chicken! I open the Sunday paper directly to the Fred Meyer ad to see if it’s on sale, and if it is – bye, bye whatever supper I had planned and hello Sunday Roast Chicken!

This recipe is basically the roasted version of the Crockpot Skinny Chicken, which is basically an Angelicious version of the Barefoot Contessa’s famous roast chicken. I like to make it on Sundays – it’s my “cooking therapy day,” so I make dessert, too. And there’s enough chicken left over for another dish later in the week (such as Cottage Cheese Chicken Enchiladas, which I’m making tomorrow – post to come!)… or just to snack on during the week. :)

I’ve made the recipe a gajillion times, and taken almost as many photos, so I’m going to try to squeeze all into one.

Without further ado, I give you:

Sunday Roast Chicken

adapted from the Barefoot Contessa’s Roast Chicken

Ingredients

  • 2 whole chickens, rinsed and patted dry
  • 4 sprigs fresh rosemary (or as many as you like)
  • 1 lemon halved
  • 1 small onion, quartered
  • 2 whole heads of garlic, cut in half
  • 3 T kosher salt
  • 3 T fresh ground pepper
  • 1 T Old Bay (or poultry) seasoning
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 5 large potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, scrubbed and quartered
  • 1/2 bag baby carrots, or 4 large carrots, peeled and cut into large chunks
  • 1 T olive oil
  • 1/2 tsp each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
  • Optional: chunks of onion, celery, other root vegetables

Let’s get busy…

I’ve already given you the prep lecture, so I’ll leave it up to you to decided if you want to do prep. I highly recommend it, because you will be handling raw birds, which have yucky raw bird germs than can make you very sick. I also recommend using gloves so you don’t get yucky raw bird germs under your fingernails. (And I know you wash your hands really well, singing the ABC song at least twice and using a fingernail brush, but better safe than sorry, right?) For what it’s worth, I buy surgical gloves at Costco – the size small fits my hands perfectly and don’t slip & slide like regular kitchen gloves. Plus I like to make that snapping sound when I pull them on. It doesn’t take a lot to amuse me, apparently.

Prep work

For prep: take two sprigs of rosemary and pull off individual sprigs (leave the other two whole). Mix salt, pepper and Old Bay (that stuff is awesome!) in a small bowl; pour olive oil into another small bowl. You’ve already cut your lemon, onion and garlic heads (note: don’t peel the garlic, just the cut the whole head in half) and set aside.

Mmmm... taters...

Line a large baking pan with foil (this makes cleanup so much easier) and spray with cooking spray. Spread quartered potatoes (leave the skin, mmmm….) and carrots in pan. You can also add celery, onions, whatever root floats your boat. Sprinkle with olive oil, salt and pepper, and toss to coat. You can add more olive if you like. Top with rosemary springs. I forgot to take a photo of it sprinkled with rosemary sprigs.

Rosemary says hi!

Put those gloves and STOP! Chicken time!

Naked on the red carpet

Pull the skin back from the chicken breast and pat dry with a paper towel. Spread a light layer of olive oil over breast, skin and inside the cavity, the use your fingers to spread salt/pepper/Old Bay mixture on breast (under skin) and in cavity. Stuff cavity with 1/2 lemon, 1/2 (2 quarters) onion, 1 whole (sliced in half) head of garlic, and a sprig of rosemary. Place atop potatoes and repeat with remaining chicken. It’ll be a tight squeeze, but you can do it!

Truss the chicken using kitchen string (this helps keep your chicken from falling party, and also keeps the juices in. Don’t ask me how it works, it just does!). Sprinkle remaining Old Bay mixture over chicken, being sure to get drumsticks and thigh sections. Sprinkle with any remaining rosemary.

All trussed up and nowhere to go!

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 1/2 hours, or until juices run clear. When the chicken is done, remove it from the oven and cover with foil; return pan with vegetables to oven and roast, uncovered for another 10 minutes to caramelize.

Veggies!

Crummy photo of delicious food.

I'm hungry just looking at it...

Serve to happy family. Enjoy leftovers.

Hey, Mr Grabby, get your box off the table first!

You rockstar, you.

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Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

7:46 pm by

What do you get when you combine a super-busy day full of meetings and clients and emails and classes and naughty pets and rainy weather? Inspired to make a fast and yummy soup!

I found this recipe in the I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook (I really do love Trader Joe’s and I swear, if she hadn’t have written it – I would have!), which is made up entirely of recipes using products that can be found at my most favorite store.

This recipe calls for ingredients that pretty much live in my cupboard year ’round (except for the pumpkin, but I stock up when I can), and took less than 45 minutes – 30 of which was just simmering time so I could answer e-mails. (I also heart my laptop. And GMail.) Next time, I’m going to try it in the slow cooker, letting it simmer all day long. Oh. My. Pumpkiny goodness.

Now you know me… I don’t follow directions very well, especially when it comes to recipes (much to Mr’s consternation – he’s always telling me, “Now go write down what you changed before you forget! HURRY!”), so as we sat at the dinner slurping down this amazing soup, he commanded me to get the paper on which the recipe was printed and write the changes down immediately, which I had to do between slurps. So here it is, in all of its amazing soup glory. (PS: It’s gluten-free and, if you omit the ham and use vegetable broth, you’ve got a vegetarian dish.)

Pumpkin Black Bean Soup

adapted from the I Love Trader Joe’s Cookbook

Ingredients

  • 3 (15-ounce) cans black beans, drained (I prefer low-sodium black beans)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can chopped tomatoes, with juice
  • 1 small tomato
  • 1 1/2 T butter
  • 1/4 c chopped onion (about 1/2 small, use more if you like onions. I do not.)
  • 1 T ground cumin
  • 6 cloves garlic, finely minced (use more if you like garlic. I do.)
  • 4 c beef broth
  • 1 large can pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling, just the plain ol’ puree)
  • 1/2 pound cooked ham or smoked turkey, cubed
  • balsamic vinegar
  • sour cream

In a food processor, coarsely chopped black beans and tomatoes; set aside. You do not need to puree them to mash, just chop ’em really good.

In a stockpot, melt the butter and add onion. Saute on medium low for about 5-6 minutes, or until onion is soft and beginning to brown. Add garlic and saute for another minute or so, then stir in bean-tomato mixture. Season lightly with salt and a little more pepper than salt (I used about 1/4 tsp kosher salt and 1 tsp pepper). Cook for about 3 minutes, stirring well.

Add broth (heating it up in the microwave makes it easier to blend), about 3/4 of the can of pumpkin and sherry.

NOTE: The sherry is optional, but it really does add a nice kick (the alcohol cooks off, so you only get the flavor and not the “I fed my kids booze soup!” guilt). Although you can use cooking sherry, I prefer very dry sherry – it tends to have more flavor and less, well, yuck than cooking sherry. Now that I think about it, I’ve never actually tasted sherry outside of a recipe… huh.

Simmer, uncovered, for about 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Take a little taste – does it need more pumpkin? Throw it in! The original recipe called for a 12-ounce can, and that just wasn’t enough. I like the mild pumpkin flavor married to the black bean tastiness, and ended up using all but about 1/2 cup from the 29-ounce can. You may also want to add more salt and pepper here – and then do what the recipe completely forgot to mention: add the cumin. Simmer, uncovered, for another 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Your soup will be very thick and yummy looking. Like this:

Much can be improved by a swirl of balsamic

That swirl you see is the balsamic vinegar. The original recipe calls for a dash of vinegar, but I am of the opinion that, to paraphrase Ms Austen, much can be improved by balsamic vinegar. Swirl it in (I’d estimate about 1-2T), add the chopped ham and stir well. Let it cook for about 5 more minutes, then remove from heat.

Lonely Sour Cream Needs a Bit of Swirling

Ladle into bowls and top with sour cream. The original recipe called for creme fraiche, which is not a product that normally lives in my refrigerator, so I substituted a quite yummy dollop of sour cream.

Swirl, baby, swirl!

I served it with Parmesan Toasted Garlic Bread. Mr and the boys raved, with the boys fighting over whose description was the best (“that soup wasn’t good, mom. It was AWESOME!” “No, it wasn’t awesome, it was THE BEST SOUP EVER!” “No, it wasn’t the best soup ever, it was…” you get the idea). Best of all, there where leftovers for lunch for both Mr and me – and I’m here to tell you, anything made with beans tastes even better the next day – I can’t wait! :)

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