Sunday, November 27, 2011

Italian Chicken soup

I have been wanting to make chicken noodle soup ever since the weather turned cold, but I wanted something different than the classic egg noodles and chicken in broth. I like all the vegetables in this recipe and the heavy cream made this soup a bit richer and decadent that most classic broth soups.

My original plan was to modify this recipe a bit and use leftover turkey. As it turned out I didn't have enough leftover turkey, but I am glad it worked that way. I had four chicken legs sitting in the freezer with no plans for them and they worked great in this soup along with a chicken breast. Bone-in skin-on chicken makes for tasty stock for the soup, as does a little dark meat.

 This recipe is half the original and still produces six large servings.

It is wonderful as leftovers too as I found out for lunch today. The flavors meld and everything gets extra delicious after sitting a few days. 

Adapted from Pioneer Woman


½ Box Ditalini Pasta (Very Short Macaroni-Type Pasta Noodles)
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
½ Whole Chicken - Breasts, Legs, Thigh Or Any Combination - I used one large breast and 4 legs
4 cups Low Sodium Chicken Broth
½ Whole Medium Onion, Diced
1 Whole Red Bell Peppers, Diced
1 Stalks Celery, Diced
1 Whole Fresh Jalapeno pepper, Diced
1 ½ tsp Olive Oil
1 Can (14-Ounce) Can Whole Tomatoes or 1 can diced tomatoes
1 cup Heavy Cream
⅛ cup Extra Virgin Olive Oil
2 Tbsp Minced Fresh Oregano
Salt And Freshly Ground Pepper, To Taste
Parmesan Cheese Shavings or grated Parmesan, For Serving


Place chicken pieces in a large soup pot and cover with the chicken broth. Cover and bring to boil and simmer for 30 minutes. Turn off heat and let chicken sit in broth for an additional 30 minutes. Remove chicken, reserving broth and dice or chop chicken; discarding the skin and bones. Set aside the meat.

Cook pasta in a separate pot according to package directions (mine took about 8 minutes) being sure not to overcook it. Drain pasta and drizzle in a little olive oil to keep it from sticking together.

Dice canned tomatoes if using whole tomatoes and return them to their juice.

Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add olive oil and oregano and turn off heat, stir constantly for one minute. Set this aside. You can also used dried oregano as the olive oil does a nice job reconstituting the flavor of the dried spice.

Pour chicken broth into a separate container and use the original soup pot to saute onion, red pepper, celery, and jalapeno in 1 tablespoon olive oil over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes.  Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. Add cooked pasta, cream, and all the oregano and olive oil from the small skillet. Stir to combine and until desired temperature. Turn off heat.

Sprinkle with grated Parmesan or shavings. Bread is always good with soup too.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Turkey Ala King

Turkey Ala King is always on of my plans for leftover turkey from Thanksgiving. I am a sucker for anything with a creamy sauce. Since we only had enough leftover turkey for one recipe; this was it.

I went heavy on the turkey as husband mentioned the last batch had more peas than meat.

Oh the horror. :D

Actually I went heavy on the veggies too.  I served it over leftover ciabatta bread; it's delicious over any bread or toast....or toasted bread! I have also served it over buttermilk biscuits which is excellent.

This recipe certainly works with chicken and you could use any cooked cut up chicken or turkey. But I especially like using the meat from a leftover roasted turkey and I think using a little dark meat adds a lot of flavor

The original recipe called for green pepper, which stays out of all of my recipes. That is my idea of horror. But this time I did add some red pepper and I thought it was nice, for both flavor and a little color. 

Adapted from Betty Crocker


¼ cup Butter Or Margarine
½ cup Frozen Peas , thawed
¾ cup Fresh Mushrooms, sliced
¼ cup Onion, chopped
1/4 cup Red Pepper, chopped
¼ cup All-Purpose Flour
¼ tsp Salt
¼ tsp Pepper
¾ cup Milk
¾ cup Chicken Broth
1 cup Cut-Up Cooked Turkey or Chicken


Melt butter in 3-quart saucepan over medium-high heat.

Cook onions, peas, mushrooms and red pepper in butter, stirring occasionally, until onion and pepper is crisp-tender.

Stir in flour, salt and pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until bubbly; remove from heat.

Stir in milk and broth. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute.

Stir in turkey; cook until hot.

Serve over bread or toast.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Lemon Pasta with Roasted Shrimp

Shrimp is by far my favorite seafood. I make it for husband and I a couple times a month and have it myself for lunch at least a day a week. It's a great main entree choice as it's low in fat and calories; provided you don't smother it with fat. :-)  No problem for me, I prefer my shrimp roasted with just a little olive oil.
It also cooks very quickly; and makes it easy to get a meal on the table quickly. 

This recipe is light and a nice change from heavy marinara or Alfredo sauces. The lemon zest and fresh juice creates a lovely zesty flavor. The roasted shrimp goes perfectly with the lemon flavor.

Adapted from Ina Garten - Food Network


Good Olive Oil
14 large Shrimp, peeled and deveined - I also removed the tails
Kosher Salt And Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Angel Hair Pasta Or Thin Vermicelli - I used about ⅙ of 1 lb box of pasta
1 tablespoon(s) Unsalted Butter, melted
Zest And Juice Of 1 Lemon


Place a large pot of water on your cooktop and heat the water to boiling.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Place the shrimp on a sheet pan with a drizzle of olive oil and salt and pepper to taste. Toss well, spread them in one layer and roast for 6 to 8 minutes, just until they are pink and cooked through.

I like to use my toaster oven and broil the shrimp on high for about 5-6 minutes until pink.

Add pasta to boiling water and cook to al dente according to package directions. Drain the pasta, reserving some of the cooking liquid. Toss pasta with the melted butter, a drizzle of olive oil, the lemon zest, lemon juice, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Add reserved cooking liquid a little at a time until the pasta mixes well.. Add the shrimp and serve hot.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Chocolate chip cookies

One of my baking goals for a long time has been to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. It would be thick, soft, chewy and, of course, taste amazing. I have made lots of good cookies; this recipe I am sharing is delicious. For years I went with the classic Nestle Toll House recipe; which is excellent. I also love these Peanut butter Oatmeal Chocolate chip cookies.

But I have never found what I consider to be my idea of the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

That said, these aren't too shabby. They bake up soft, taste great and are nearly irresistible in dough form. Me and cookie's a sickness. Actually I have never gotten sick; not that it would cure me.

Adapted from

1 1/4 cups All-Purpose Flour
3/4 tsp Baking Soda
1/4 tsp Salt
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) Real Butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup Shortening
3/4 cup Firmly Packed Brown Sugar
1 tsp Vanilla
1 large Eggs
1 (6 ounce) Package Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 cup Chopped Nuts (Optional) I opted not-my perfect cookie does not have nuts.


In a large bowl, beat butter and shortening until creamy.

Add sugar and vanilla and beat with a mixer on medium speed until well blended.

Beat in eggs, one at a time, mixing well.

Combine flour, baking soda and salt, add slowly allowing ingredients to combine, then beat to blend well.

Stir in chocolate chips.

Drop batter in 2-tablespoon portions about 2 inches apart on baking sheets.

Bake in a 375°F preheated oven until edges of cookies are brown but an area about 1 inch wide in the center is still pale, about 10 minutes.

Let cookies cool on pan about 5 minutes, then transfer to racks with a spatula.

Yields about 18 cookies and easily doubled if you wish to make more.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Enchilada Stuffed Shells

I can't remember coming across this recipe; but it has been in my must-try folder on my computer for a while. Pasta and Mexican flavor together sounded so delightful and definitely something different.

I modified the original to incorporate extra spice with more onion, more cumin and the cayenne pepper. As I have mentioned Husband and I like spice and I used mild enchilada sauce; so I wanted to make sure there was plenty of flavor. I have been meaning to try some homemade enchilada sauce but for this recipe I used the canned and it was good.

Canned refried beans aren't my favorite; though I do love refried beans and beans in general. I substituted some black beans I smashed with a fork as I wanted the texture and flavor of beans without the mushiness of canned refried beans. I thought it worked very well.

Adapted from


8-10 Jumbo Pasta Shells
½ pound Ground Beef Or Turkey
1 (10 ounce) Can Enchilada Sauce
¼ cup Minced Onion
¼ tsp Dried Oregano
¼ tsp Dried Basil
½ tsp Ground Cumin
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
¼ tsp Cayenne Pepper
¼ cup Refried Beans Or Smashed Beans
½ cup Shredded Colby Jack Cheese Or Mexican Blend Cheese


Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Cook pasta shells according to package directions. Drain and set aside. I made a few extra as it was hard to tell how many shells I could fill with the meat mixture.

 In a large skillet over medium heat brown meat until no longer pink. Drain any excess fat. Stir in onion, oregano, basil, cumin and pepper. Stir in refried beans. Set aside.

Coat an 8 x 8 inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray and pour half of the can of enchilada sauce evenly over the bottom. Using a small spoon fill the cooked pasta shells with the meat/ bean mixture and place the shells facing up into the bottom of the dish. Pour the remaining enchilada sauce over the tops of the shells making sure to coat the meat mixture of each shell.

Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 25 minutes. During the last few minutes of cooking, uncover and sprinkle the tops of the shells with cheese. Bake until the cheese has melted.

Serve immediately, spooning some of sauce from the bottom of the pan over the shells if desired. I did as evidence by the picture. :-)

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Brat Beer Cheese soup

Some of my favorite recipes are soup. They tend to be pretty easy and are often just as good reheated. We can enjoy the soup the day I make it and then have a great, quick lunch down the road.
I also happen to love chopping and soups are all about chopping and stirring. :-)

I used Wild Rice bratwurst we buy from a local meat market. They are so delicious; I love them grilled during the summer. I used a dark amber beer as that was all I had available. I think I need to go shopping.....

It went very well with Ciabatta bread. Of course soup and bread is such a great combination. 

Adapted from Midwest Living


2 Tbsp Butter Or Margarine
1 medium Onion, finely chopped (½ cup)
1 medium Carrot, coarsely shredded (½ cup)
1 stalk Celery, chopped
3 large Shallots, chopped
1 14-ounce Can Vegetable Broth Or 1-¾ Cups Vegetable Stock
⅓ cup All-Purpose Flour
1 cup Whole Milk, half-and-half or light cream - I used Half and Half
½ tsp Caraway Seeds, crushed
½ tsp Celery Seeds
¼ tsp Ground Black Pepper
10 ounces Wisconsin Aged Cheddar Cheese Or Sharp Cheddar Cheese, shredded
4 Cooked Smoked Bratwurst, halved lengthwise and sliced into bite sized pieces
1 12-ounce Can Beer Or 12-Ounce Bottle Ale


1. In a large saucepan, heat the butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrot, shallots and celery; reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring frequently, about 10 to 15 minutes or until the onion is very soft and golden.

2. Stir flour into the onion mixture and slowly add Vegetable broth, stirring to incorporate. Add the milk, caraway seeds, celery seeds and black pepper. Cook over medium heat, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Gradually stir in the cheese; reduce heat to low. Cook, stirring frequently, just until cheese melts. Stir in the bratwurst and beer. Cook, stirring frequently, until heated through.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Chicken Marsala with Spinach and Mushrooms

Yup, another chicken recipe. Boneless, skinless chicken breasts are so convenient for the two of us and good portion size.

The recipe also called for mushrooms, spinach and wine, so it definitely sounded up my alley.

The biggest challenge for me was trying to pound a half a chicken breast flat enough to cook through in two minutes a side. Really?? I think the key, for me anyway, would be to buy those flattened out breasts they sell in the grocery store. Maybe some people can pound meat flat as a pancake, but I am evidently chicken-breast-pounding-challenged. So I improvised. After frying on both sides for a few minutes I stuck them in the oven to bake the rest of the way. The chicken gets softer on the outside than it would obviously be if it were fried until it is done, but this way-it gets done.

The rest is a snap, put the rest of the ingredients in the frying pan; then stir and cook.  I served it was smashed potatoes and I am thinking pasta would be great too. It's a very tasty recipe with the wine and sun-dried tomatoes, and of course the spinach and mushrooms which are some of my favorites.

Adapted from


 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast Halves
 All-Purpose Flour
Salt And Pepper
1 Tbs Dried Italian Seasoning
1 Tbsp Olive Oil
1 Tbsp Butter
1 1/2 cups Sliced white Mushrooms
1/3 cup Sun-Dried Tomatoes chopped
3/4 cup Packed Fresh Spinach
1/2 cup sweet white Wine


1. Place chicken breasts between two pieces of wax paper, and pound to ¼ inch thick with a meat mallet.
2. Dust chicken with flour, salt, pepper and Italian seasoning.
3. In a skillet, fry chicken in olive oil over medium heat.
4. Cook about 2 minutes on each side or until cooked through, but not over done.
5. Set aside, and keep warm. (As I mentioned above, no way was my chicken flat enough to be done in that amount of time; I baked in the oven at 325 degrees for about 25 minutes. Be careful not to overcook.)
6. In the same pan, melt the butter over medium heat; add mushrooms, sun-dried tomatoes and cook for approximately 4 minutes, stirring occasionally.
7. Add wine and cook for 6 more minutes. Stirring and scraping the bottom of pan to release all the flavor.
8. Mix in spinach, and cook for about 2 minutes.
9. Serve over chicken.

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Pesto Chicken

We have been enjoying basil pesto recently. I bought a jar for a fish recipe and we both really liked it. I have made a few recipes with it and also found it makes a great addition to pizza! Just sprinkle a bit on either before or after the pizza sauce. This was Husband's idea; giving credit where credit is due!

This recipe is super quick and easy; and healthy if you don't overdue the pesto and cheese.

Recipe adapted from South Beach diet.

Serves 2


2 Boneless, skinless chicken breasts ( I used one large breast )
Fresh Ground Black Pepper For Seasoning Chicken
Approx ¼ cup Basil Pesto
Approx ¼ cup Grated Mozzarella Cheese  ( I used a shredded pizza cheese mixture)


Preheat oven to 375 F. Trim any fat from chicken pieces, then cut lengthwise into 2 to 3 long pieces.

Spray an 8x8 baking dish with non-stick spray. then spread half the basil pesto over the bottom of the dish. Lay chicken strips over the pesto, and add pepper to taste, then spread remaining basil pesto over the chicken. This originally called for salt and pepper, but I can't imagine needing additional salt with the pesto.

I indicated approximately with the pesto and cheese as I honestly didn't measure. I just added a thin layer of pesto to the bottom of the pan and then over the chicken then sprinkled a reasonable amount of shredded cheese over the baked chicken.

Cover the baking dish with aluminum foil and bake the chicken for 25-30 minutes, just until chicken is barely firm and cooked through.

Remove foil and sprinkle chicken with grated mozzarella cheese. Put dish back into the oven without foil and cook 5 minutes more, just until cheese is melted. Switch to broil for another 5 minutes to lightly browned the cheese.

Serve hot. Rice is a nice side dish.