Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Curried Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

I hope you're not sick of soup yet.  I never could be.  But if you are, this one might just liven up your routine.  It takes a true American classic--chicken and wild rice soup--and kicks it up a bit with the addition of rich coconut milk, curry powder, and a few fragrant and pungent spices.

To be honest, I wasn't quite sure what I'd think of this.  Frankly, I was pretty surprised I wanted to try a curry recipe so badly.  It's not usually something I lean toward.  But something about the promise of coconut milk, rice, and spices that would keep me warm on the coldest, snowiest of days sounded so, so right.  And it was.  

I was warm, and full, and happy.  Who doesn't love that?

Warming curry, cumin, and ginger pair with coconut milk to put a decidedly Indian spin on all-American chicken and wild rice soup.

Curried Chicken and Wild Rice Soup 
adapted from Gimme Some Oven

1 c. uncooked wild rice
1 TBSP olive oil
1 medium white onion, diced
2 large carrots, peeled and diced (about 1 c.)
2 stalks celery, diced (about 1 c.)
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
4 c. chicken stock
3 c. cooked, shredded chicken
2 tsp. yellow Madras curry powder
1/2 tsp. cumin
1/4 tsp. ground ginger
1 bay leaf
1/2 tsp. Kosher salt
1/2 tsp. white pepper (black will also work, but white pepper has a different heat)
1 (14-oz.) can coconut milk
chopped cilantro, for garnish

1.  Cook the wild rice according to package directions.

2.  Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot over medium-high heat.  Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook until the onion is soft and translucent, 6-7 minutes.  Add in the garlic and cook 1-2 minutes more, stirring occasionally.  When the garlic is fragrant, add the chicken stock, chicken, curry powder, cumin, ginger, bay leaf, salt, and pepper.  Stir to combine then add in coconut milk.  Bring the soup to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low and continue simmering, partially covered, until the rice is done.

3.  When the rice is cooked, remove the bay leaf from the soup then stir in rice to combine.  Taste and adjust seasonings as desired.  Ladle into individual bowls and top with cilantro, as desired.

Yield: 6 servings

Monday, March 9, 2015

Meatless Monday--West African Peanut Soup

Yes, you read that correctly.  Peanut soup.  As in a new way to get your peanut butter fix.  At least if you're a total peanut butter lover like I am.

Recipes like this remind me of one of the major upsides to being single.  It's easy to make, nobody else had to get on board with it, and I didn't have to share one single spoonful of the leftovers.  I think those reasons qualify as legit "silver lining" type things, don't you?

With just a little chopping, a bit of whisking, and some patience while the soup cooks, I whipped up one of the most different soups I've ever had.  The texture was thick and creamy, as you'd expect from a recipe calling for that much peanut butter.  The onion and kale added a good amount of texture.  Some recipes for peanut soup call for sweet potatoes to be added in while the broth is simmering.  I think they would be a stellar addition, but I opted for brown rice this time, just as Kate suggested.

If you're looking for a new addition to your winter Meatless Monday routine, please give this one a try.  I think you'll be surprised at just how much you love the combination of peanut butter, onions, kale, garlic, and tomatoes.

A unique and creamy soup that combines peanut butter, kale, garlic, and tomatoes in the most unexpected and pleasant way.

West African Peanut Stew
from Cookie + Kate

6 c. low sodium vegetable broth
1 medium red onion, chopped
2 TBSP peeled and minced fresh ginger
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. salt
1 bunch collard greens (or kale), ribs removed and leaves chopped into 1-in. strips
3/4 c. unsalted smooth peanut butter
½ cup tomato paste
1/4 c. roughly-chopped peanuts, for garnish
Sriracha, or other desired hot sauce, as desired
brown rice, for serving (optional)

1.  In a medium heavy-bottomed soup pot, bring the broth to a boil. Add the onion, ginger, garlic, and salt. Cook on medium-low heat for 20 minutes.

2.  In a medium-sized, heat-safe mixing bowl, combine the peanut butter and tomato paste, then transfer 1 to 2 cups of the hot stock to the bowl. Whisk the mixture together until smooth.

3.  Pour the peanut mixture back into the soup and mix well. Stir in the collard greens and season the soup with hot sauce to taste. Simmer 15 more minutes on medium-low heat, stirring often. Serve over cooked brown rice if you'd like, and top with a sprinkle of chopped peanuts and more hot sauce.

Yield: 4 servings

Monday, March 2, 2015

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes

It's about time for a dessert around here, don't you think?  How about an individually-sized lemon cake that's equal parts sweet, tart, creamy, and spongy?  Still not convinced?  Then scroll on down and check out those layers.  They form on their own, you know.

It's true.  With just a handful of ingredients and a little patience while you whip egg whites (and wait for the cakes to bake and cool), you can have your very own little cake.  Only, as it bakes, this cake forms a middle layer of light, airy pudding and top that looks and tastes like smooth lemon curd.  It's every bit as perfect as it sounds.  

My sister, one of those people who will always choose lemon over chocolate, would love these cakes.  She is a huge fan of my lemon bars already.  But today's her birthday and birthdays mean cake, right?  I think so.  So Taylor, I hope you have a fabulous birthday.  I can't wait to make these for you when I see you soon.  You'll get your very own personal lemon cake, but no squishing the pudding through your teeth.  It might be your birthday but I'm still the bossy big sister.  Always have been, always will be.

Bring a little bit of sweet-tart sunshine to your plate with these individual lemon pudding cakes.  With three layers of light, fluffy cake, airy pudding, and bright, rich lemon curd, they're sure to bring a smile to your face.  

Meyer Lemon Pudding Cakes
from Annie's Eats

softened butter, for greasing ramekins
3/4 c. plus 1 TBSP sugar, divided, plus more for coating ramekins
1/4 c. plus 1 TBSP all-purpose flour
pinch of salt
zest of 2 Meyer lemons
1 c. buttermilk
1/4 c. freshly squeezed Meyer lemon juice (about 2 lemons)
4 large eggs, separated

1.  Preheat the oven to 325°F.  Lightly grease inside of six (8-oz.) ramekins with the softened butter then coat with sugar.  Prepare a deep baking dish or roasting pan by placing a clean kitchen towel in the bottom.  Set prepared ramekins on top of the towel in the baking dish.

2.  In a medium bowl, combine the flour, 3/4 c. sugar, and salt.  Add in lemon zest.  With clean hands, rub the zest into the flour mixture until evenly distributed and fragrant.

3.  In a large bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, lemon juice, and egg yolks.  Set aside.

4.  In a separate medium bowl, combine the egg white and remaining tablespoon sugar.  Whisk or beat with a hand mixer until soft peaks form, taking care not to overbeat.

5.  Add the flour mixture to the buttermilk mixture and whisk to combine, incorporating well.  Add 1/3 of the whipped egg whites to the bowl and gently fold in with a rubber spatula.  Repeat with remaining egg whites in two more additions.

6.  Once the egg whites are evenly incorporated into the batter, divide it into the prepared ramekins.  Add hot water to the baking dish until it reached halfway up the sides of the ramekins.  

7.  Tent the pan with foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake 20-30 more minutes, until the cakes rise up and the tops are lightly browned.

8.  Carefully transfer the ramekins to a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature.  When ready to serve, gently run a paring knife around the edges of each cake and invert onto serving plates.  Top with candied lemon slices, whipped cream, or other desired garnishes.

Yield: 6 individual cakes

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Top Three Chilis for National Chili Day

As I write this, I'm hanging out at my best friend's house on ice day number two.  You see, Dallas, like all Southern cities, does not do winter weather.  It's true we didn't get that much ice and got even less actual snow.  Northern cities laugh and shake their heads at how quickly we close down.  But we don't put our money into cold weather measures like salt, snow plows, and the like.  We put it into tornado sirens and early warning systems.  And football stadiums.  I think it's a fair trade.

Especially since snow days mean chili.  It's a given.  Nothing will get every last Dallasite to the grocery store for chili fixins like even the slightest threat of winter weather.  Or a football game.  Again, a totally fair trade.

With our current weather situation coinciding with National Chili Day, I'm wishing I'd gotten ingredients for all three of my favorite chilis.  But, we've got another storm front on its way, so there still time to go to the store and restock before tomorrow.  Two snow days and #NationalChiliDay 2015.  I'm not sad about it.

My three favorite chilis: On the left, the hearty and healthy butternut squash and chipotle chili with avocado the Meatless Monday campaign loved just us much as I did.  Top right, my all-time favorite traditional chili, a slight adaptation of Jamie Deen's stick-to-your-ribs recipe.  Bottom right, a light and healthy white chicken (or turkey) chili.  No matter what you like, I've got you covered for #NationalChiliDay!

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Bowls with Avocado

When the weather is cold and dreary, it can be pretty tough to stay focused on healthy meals.  It seems like we're naturally geared to want thick, rich stews, roasts, baked pastas, and all the mashed potatoes we can handle.

The good news is citrus season comes smack in the middle of winter, making the search for light and enticing meals much, much easier.  Nothing can brighten up the look of a plate as quickly as juicy segments of orange or grapefruit and the taste is always enough to bring warm, sunny thoughts to mind.

These quinoa bowls make those oranges the star of the show.  With a supporting cast of creamy avocado, nutty quinoa, and earthy cilantro, there's nothing not to love.  I made these for lunch and the protein content really kept me going strong all afternoon, even through a pretty intense workout.  If this is what eating healthy in winter can be, I'm all in.

Bright, sunny orange segments are the perfect accent to nutty quinoa, creamy avocado, and earthy cilantro in these healthy, protein-packed citrus chicken quinoa bowls.

Citrus Chicken Quinoa Bowls with Avocado
adapted from Sally's Baking Addiction

1/2 c. dry quinoa
2 TBSP olive oil
1/2 lb. boneless, skinless chicken breast, chopped into 1-in. pieces
2 cloves roasted garlic, chopped
1/2 tsp. smoked paprika
1/2 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
2 large oranges, peeled and segmented (supremes)
1 ripe avocado, cubed
2 green onions, chopped (for garnish) 

For the dressing:
1/4 c. fresh lime juice
1/3 c. chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
1 TBSP fresh orange juice
1 TBSP extra-virgin olive oil
1 TBSP honey
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper

1.  In a dry skillet over medium-low heat, toast quinoa until fragrant and very lightly browned, 7-8 minutes.  Cook according to package directions, then transfer to a large bowl and let cool slightly.

2.  Meanwhile,warm olive oil in a sauté pan over medium heat.  In a small bowl, toss chicken pieces with paprika, cumin, salt, and pepper.  Add chicken to pan and cook until done, 7-8 minutes.

3.  Make dressing by shaking all ingredients together in a tightly-lidded jar or whisking together in a small bowl.

4.  Add chicken, oranges, and avocado to the quinoa.  Stir gently to combine.  Add desired amount of dressing to salad and stir.  (I used about 3/4 of it and added the rest to leftovers for lunch the following day.)  Leftovers keep well up to 3 days.    

Yield: 3 servings