6.03.2014

Slow Cooker Chicken Noodle Soup

Original Recipe HERE

I had yet to come across a classic chicken noodle soup that I loved.  Sometimes it was the taste, but plenty of times it was the time it took - especially if it involved particular chicken parts (because the acts of de-boning and de-skinning and such make me lose my appetite for the final product).  This recipe was very easy AND tasted good, so it will be my keeper until, perchance, I find something better.  But for now, I can stop looking.

My kids aren't big chicken eaters, but they did like this soup enough that I would make it again.  I also told them about chicken soup having magical healing powers when they are sick, so maybe they'll be more open to it this winter.

I was a little grossed out by cooking the chicken right in the broth and kept thinking about how I was consuming "raw chicken juice" (oh, sorry...did I just ruin the recipe?).  But I forced myself to get over that.

I thought the dill flavor was too strong in the original recipe, so I decreased it (new amount reflected below).  Also, I might cut down slightly on the thyme and rosemary, too.  I didn't chop the chicken toward the end; I shredded it with the KitchenAid - in hindsight, this method worked too well and it turned a bit more stew-y than I wanted.  Next time, I will chop as directed or shred with forks.  Lastly, I cooked this with only 6 cups of broth.  I added another cup before serving and the final cup the next day when reheating leftovers. 
 
Ingredients
1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts
1 teaspoon olive oil
6 to 8 cups chicken broth
3 large carrots, peeled & chopped
3 celery stalks, chopped
1 onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
1/2 teaspoon dried dill
4 to 8 ounces egg noodles [or other pasta]
2 Tablespoons lemon juice [I did not use]
1/4 cup fresh parsley, chopped [I did not use]
salt & pepper, to taste
 
Directions
(1) In a 5- or 6-quart slow cooker, combine all ingredients except egg noodles and parsley.
(2) Cook on low for 6-8 hours.  Remove chicken; shred with forks or chop into bite-size pieces.  Set chicken aside.
(3) Add noodles, parsley, and lemon juice to cooker.  Cook until tender, about 10-`5 minutes.
(4) Return chicken to cooker.  Serve.

Kid Participation: None.

5.19.2014

Apple Pie Baked Oatmeal

Original Recipe HERE
 
I'm realizing that I turn to "brinner" meals a lot more than I'd ever intended to, but they're so easy and kid-pleasing that it's hard not to make them a weekly staple.  And then I wonder...why do I feel like I shouldn't rely on them so often?  Food is food, and other than the amounts of sugar and eggs (which can often be modified or substituted), these things are usually pretty healthy.  Bring on another baked oatmeal recipe!
 
This did resemble apple pie in taste and, somewhat, in texture and presentation.  I squirted a little surprise whipped cream on each kid's serving, which solidified the likeness.
 
I used a mix of Granny Smith and Fuji apples, and I doubled the amount of the "filling" because I knew the original amounts wouldn't be enough (altered amounts are shown below).  Sure enough, the four of us (minus Husband) just about finished a 9x13" dish of this stuff.  A little - though not enough for my liking - was left for breakfast the next day.

UPDATE: I made this again, and it was drier than the first time.  I think I accidentally added too many oats, because the oatmeal mostly sat on top of the apples and cooked into a solid layer.  Next time I'll try stirring the apples and oatmeal mixture together and baking that way.
 
Ingredients
* For the apple layer:
5 medium apples
2 Tablespoons lemon juice
3 to 4 Tablespoons brown sugar
2 Tablespoons corn starch
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves [can substitute nutmeg]

* For the oatmeal layer:
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar
1-1/2 cups milk
2-1/2 cups old-fashioned oats

Directions
(1) Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Grease a 9x13" baking dish.
(2) Peel apples if desired.  Cut apples into 1/2" to 1" cubes. 
(3) In a medium bowl, whisk lemon juice, corn starch, brown sugar, cinnamon, and cloves.
(4) Add apples to spice mixture; toss until well-coated.  Spread in an even layer in the bottom of the baking dish.
(5) In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, apple sauce, vanilla, salt, baking powder, brown sugar, and cinnamon. 
(6) Add milk; whisk again.
(7) Add oats; stir until well-combined.
(8) Pour oat mixture evenly over apples.
(9) Bake oatmeal for 45 minutes or until the top is lightly browned and no longer wet in the center.
 
Kid Participation:
* Whisk spice mixture
* Toss (though not literally) apples with spice mixture
* Whisk oatmeal mixture
* Spoon oatmeal mixture over apples

5.05.2014

Lemon Almond Bread

Original Recipe HERE
 
This stuff was so good.  The lemon zest and juice made all the difference, and the tartness complimented the mild almond flavor well.  It is definitely a dessert bread, though I disregarded that fact and had it with every meal (and in between meals).
 
My only complaint is that there wasn't a taste of glaze in every bite.  I'd like to make this in muffin form in the hopes of rectifying that minor flaw.

Ingredients
* For the bread:
1-1/2 cups all-purpose white flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup white sugar
2 Tablespoons lemon zest
3/4 cup unsweetened almond milk
1/2 cup canola or vegetable oil
2 large eggs, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
* For the lemon glaze:
1 cup powdered sugar
1-1/2 Tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 teaspoon almond extract
3 tablespoons sliced almonds, for garnishing [I did not use]
 
Directions
(1) Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease a 9x5" loaf pan
(2) In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder.
(3) In a small bowl, combine sugar and lemon zest. Rub together with fingers until fragrant.
(4) Whisk sugar into the flour mixture.
(5) In a medium bowl, combine almond milk, oil, eggs, lemon juice, vanilla, and almond extract.
(6) Add wet ingredients to dry ingredients. Stir until combined; pour batter into loaf pan.
(7) Bake for 55-60 minutes, or until toothpick comes out clean.
(8) Place the loaf on a cooling rack; cool for 15 minutes.
(9) Loosen the sides of the bread with a knife; remove loaf from pan. Let cool completely on wire rack.
(10) Meanwhile, combine powdered sugar, lemon juice, and almond extract in a small bowl. Whisk until smooth. Drizzle glaze over bread. Sprinkle sliced almonds over the bread if desired.
 
Kid Participation:
* Measure dry ingredients
* Sift dry ingredients
* Lemon-ify sugar
* Measure wet ingredients
* Stir batter
* Whisk glaze
* Sprinkle almonds

West African Peanut Soup

Original Recipe HERE
 
So...I don't know what to say about this recipe and its success.  I thought it was great.  *N* also requested several helpings.  The boys didn't really complain (because *J* makes it quite clear when he's horrified that I dared serve something so disgusting), but they didn't finish their bowls.  I scooped it over brown rice, and I reheated it for lunch the following two days.
 
I added some salt after taste-testing, and I think it would've been fine if I'd just chopped up fresh spinach and didn't hunt down the collard greens.  I'd also consider using powdered ginger for convenience.
 
 Ingredients
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
1 sweet potato, peeled & diced into 1/2" pieces
1 large onion
1 bell pepper [I used red]
2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic
1/8 teaspoon cayenne powder
4 cups vegetable broth
1 can (15 oz) diced tomatoes, undrained
3/4 cup natural peanut butter
3/4 cup water
1 bunch collard greens
Salt and pepper
Cilantro and peanuts to garnish (optional) [I did not use]

Directions
(1) Heat sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat.
(2) Add sweet potato; saute.
(3) Meanwhile, chop onion, bell pepper, and garlic.  Grate ginger.
(4) Add onion, bell pepper, garlic, ginger, and cayenne to pot.  Cook 15 minutes.
(5) Add broth and tomatoes.  Bring soup to a simmer; cook an additional 15 minutes.
(6) Meanwhile, in a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter and water until smooth.
(7) Wash greens.  Cut out and discard stems.  Slice remaining portions into 1" pieces.
(8) Add peanut butter mixture and greens to soup.  Cook for 10 minutes.
(9) Blend about 2 cups of the soup (I used an immersion blender) for a thicker texture if desired.
(10) Season with salt and pepper.  Serve into bowls; top with cilantro and peanuts if using.
 
Kid Participation: None.

Baked Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal

Original Recipe HERE

My kids love baked oatmeal dishes (especially when I serve them it with baked pears), and I was looking to whip together something slightly easier and just for a change of pace.  The entire dish would've been eaten in one night if we didn't have to wolf down dinner and leave for gymnastics.
 
Because I needed this to cook faster, I put it in a 9x13" dish and baked covered for 20 minutes and uncovered for 10-15.  The texture was more oatmeal-y and less firm than my usual recipe, which was fine.  I also didn't have any eggs, so I substituted several tablespoons of egg whites - whether that made a difference, I'll test in future makings.  I suspect it was the greater amount of pumpkin instead.  Also, I'd probably increase the amount of pumpkin pie spice - or at least add cinnamon.
 
Ingredients
1 can (15 oz) pumpkin purée
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups milk
2-1/2 cups dry old-fashioned oats
 
Directions
(1) Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Grease an 8x8" baking dish.
(2) In a large bowl, whisk pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, pie spice, salt, and baking powder until smooth.
(3) Whisk in milk.
(4) Add oats to pumpkin mixture; stir until well combined.  Pour into prepared pan.
(5)  Cover pan with foil.  Bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil; bake an additional 10-15 minutes.

Kid Participation:
* Whisk together ingredients
* Measure oats

Lentil Soup with Sausage

Original Recipe HERE
 
This is a handy, basic soup recipe to have on hand - it may not blow anyone's mind, but it was a winner in both the Ease of Preparation and Taste categories.  I always have the ingredients - or something close - ready to go.  The kids liked after adding shredded cheddar and shredded smoked gouda, and I'm sure serving it with a little sour cream would've made them happy, too.
 
Ingredients
1 cup dry green lentils
1 cup chopped onion
1 Tablespoon olive oil
2 to 4 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
4 cups beef broth [I did half beef and half chicken]
1 can (15 oz) petite-diced tomatoes, undrained
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme or oregano [I used oregano]
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 bay leaf
1/2 to 1 cup chopped carrots
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/2 pound pre-cooked smoked sausage links, sliced – or chopped ham [I used chicken sausage]
 
Directions
(1) Rinse lentils; drain.  Soak in a bowl of water while other preparations are completed.
(2) In a large pot, heat oil over medium heat.  Add onion; cook several minutes until tender but not brown.
(3) Add garlic; stir.  Saute a few minutes, avoiding browning.
(4) Drain lentils.  Add to pot along with broth, tomatoes, Worcestershire sauce, thyme or oregano, pepper, and bay leaf.
(5) Bring soup to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes.
(6) Add carrots and celery.  Simmer an additional 15-20 minutes or until lentils and vegetables are tender.
(7) Add sausage; heat through.  Discard bay leaf.
 
Kid Participation: None.
 

4.24.2014

Cauliflower "Fried Rice"

Original Recipe HERE
 
My kids like Chinese food, so I thought something that tasted like it could be a winner.  They could've eaten this stuff for their entire dinner and had nothing else.  There wasn't a single scoop left in the pan...so much for seeing how leftovers would hold up.  My mom was here, and she asked several times after she left for the recipe.
 
This recipe is good because the vegetables can be increased or substituted without affecting the base.  The cauliflower didn't crisp up as much as I'd expected.  I'd followed the original recipe's instructions to cover the skillet, and I think that didn't let enough moisture escape.  Also, I'd decrease the amount of soy sauce a bit.
 
Ingredients
1 medium head (about 24 oz) cauliflower
1 Tablespoon sesame oil
2 egg whites
1 large egg
pinch of salt
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1/2 small onion, diced fine
1 cup frozen peas and carrots
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed
5 scallions, diced (white parts only)
2 to 3 Tablespoons soy sauce

Directions
(1) Remove the core of the cauliflower; chop into coarse florets.  Rinse and allow to dry completely (I helped this along with a colander and dish towel).
(2) Place half the cauliflower in a food processor.  Pulse until small and has the texture of rice or couscous.
(3) Repeat with remaining cauliflower.
(4) Combine egg and egg whites in a small bowl.
(5) Heat a large skillet over medium heat.  Add olive oil.
(6) Add eggs to skillet.  Cook, turning several times, until done.  Remove eggs; set aside.
(7) Add sesame oil to skillet.  Saute onions, scallions, peas, carrots, and garlic 3-4 minutes or until soft.
(8) Add cauliflower and soy sauce to skillet.  Cook 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently, until cauliflower is slightly crispy but still tender.
(9) Add egg to skillet.  Stir until all ingredients are heated through and evenly combined.
 
Kid Participation: None.