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  • Tuscan Chicken & Vegetable Stew

    I have to say from the outset that there is a lot of chopping going on here. A LOT. It was one of the things that almost kept me from trying this recipe.

    You read – I’ll chop …

    My new dear friend, mentor and cruise ship guru, Chloe, was making this one day while we were working at her home. (CHOP, CHOP, CHOP) Her house was filled with the most wonderful aromas. She assured me that this recipe was easy  … especially if you buy a rotisserie chicken. She gave me the recipe and looking at it, I still wasn’t sold. CHOP, CHOP

    Chop this. Chop that. Chop that other thing. Oh, yeah, and chop that thing over there, as well. And not just the Swedish Chef inspired chopping that I usually do … chopping so things are the same size. UGH! Not my forte.

    The next day, while we were working (yes, I spent a tremendous amount of time at her house), we sat and had this stew for lunch. Well, hush my mouth and pass my chopping knife! You could have added 7 more ingredients to this and I would have chopped away. (Well, not really)

    Chop … chop … chop …

    I acquiesced and tried it at home. This makes a HUGE pot of stew – which is good when you hate chopping neatly as much as I do. The Dear one and I had this for dinner one night and had 3 containers for the freezer. Some toasted bread and a green salad and you’re set on a chilly evening.

    So, Chloe … I went on an interview for a job as a tour guide. I was very content to sit on a tour bus with cruise ship passengers riding around Acadia National Park and Mount Desert Island. Tour over, passengers leave, count your tips, done. Chloe and I hit it off instantly. You know, that rare, kindred spirit vibe you find only a few times in your life, if you’re lucky. During this interview, Chloe mentioned that she wanted to retire after the 2017 season. The next thing I knew – and I’m not quite sure what she saw in me, maybe it was my silliness in actually being willing to take the job – she was training me to take over her job when she retired. (chop, chop, chop)

    It was terrifying at first. So much information. So many moving parts. I would sit next to her, day after day, in utter awe at all the information in her head. Her ease with the most difficult people (myself included) was grace personified. Her innate ability to take the most difficult of scenarios, turn it around and make it seem like there was never an issue.

    I am sure many people who began the conversation all fired up had no idea how she managed turn the situation around, or perhaps didn’t even notice that the situation was turned around. She calls this the “please, pass the butter” voice. (I’m still working on that.) It was inspiring.

    But, aside from training me – mentoring really – adopting a bit – for this job of many facets … wait, I’ll explain. Does anyone remember the old Ed Sullivan Show? There was a fella on the show, quite often actually, who had many thin bamboo poles. He would start spinning plates on these poles and run around the stage, watching the plates, jiggling the poles, spinning plates, keeping all the plates up in the air. That, in a nutshell, is my job.

    Sorry, digressed … aside from mentoring me in this difficult transition, she became a dear friend. She and her darling husband Scott (and the dearest Lucy) fed me, wiped my tears, picked me up from the ground when I was at my lowest, taught me, guided me, became my family, laughed with me, drank wine with me at the end of a frustrating day, sighed with me, and guided me through a frantic summer and fall.

    On one of my worst days – I had made at least a billion mistakes – I had stepped away and there were tears streaming down my face. Scott came over, wiped them away and said, “Do you think Chloe has never made a mistake? Chloe has made more mistakes than this. Learn from them. Make new ones. And don’t let anyone see you crying.”

    I am truly grateful to Chloe for so much … more than I can ever possibly express, more than my heart and head can hold at times. It’s that rare type of symbiotic friendship where words are not always necessary, giggles and laughing are ever present, compassion is a given, forgiveness always there, and life is so much richer with them in it.

    Thank you so much, dear woman, for all you’ve done for and given me.

    Anyway, enough mush …

    Every time I make this soup, I think of sweet Chloe and miss the stuffin’ out of her! Hmmm, maybe I should give her a call while I’m chopping freakin’ vegetables …

    I joke about the chopping, but there is a lot. But once that’s done, that’s really it – jut add ingredients and stir. The apple cider vinegar gives it a layer of flavor that brings everything together.

    • 1 tablespoon oil
    • 3 tablespoon butter
    • 1 medium onion, diced
    • 2 cloves garlic, minced
    • 3 cups chopped carrots
    • 3 cups chopped celery
    • 1 large zucchini, chopped
    • 1 sweet red bell pepper, chopped
    • ¼ cup flour
    • 4 cups chicken broth
    • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
    • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
    • 1 (19 oz.) can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
    • 1 (28 oz.) can diced tomatoes, undrained
    • 1 cup diced cooked chicken breast (I used rotisserie)
    • 1 cup fresh spinach leaves, chopped
    • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • fresh parsley
    • parmesan cheese

    In a large pot over medium high heat, add the butter and olive oil. Add in the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery and saute for about 4-5 minutes, until tender and fragrant.

    Stir in the zucchini and red pepper and cook for another 2 minutes until slightly softened.

    Sprinkle in the flour to create a roux and cook for another minute. Slowly add 1 cup of the chicken broth while continuously stirring until it starts to thicken and comes together. Then slowly pour in the remaining chicken broth.

    Stir in the Italian seasoning, red pepper flakes, beans and entire can of tomatoes.

    Bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Add the chicken and reduce heat to low and simmer uncovered for 25-30 minutes.

    Stir in the spinach and cider vinegar and cook for an additional 3-4 minutes or until everything is heated through.

    Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve hot with fresh parsley and parmesan cheese, if desired.

    Turkey Vegetable Chili

    Turkey Vegetable Chili

    It’s cold.

    I’m sick.

    Bubonic plague sick.

    Oh, no, not the flu. The flu would be too simple. Here’s some drugs, get some sleep, you’ll be better.

    I have the energy sapping, can’t keep your eyes open, will not go away virus that is sweeping the nation.

    I needed to make something. Something warm. Something healthy. Something that freezes well.

    The solution, this wonderful one-pot turkey vegetable chili. Filled with veggies and turkey. It’s hearty without being too much. Best part, it’s a Weight Watcher’s recipe and each one cup serving is only ONE POINT.  Okay, I made my Grandmother’s Biscuits to go with, so it’s no longer one point, but I’m ill and can afford the extra calories, and besides, I’m shooting for filling, healthy and yummy, not diet conscious.

    There’s a lot of energy sapping chopping here, but the end result is totally worth it!

    • 10 oz. extra lean ground turkey
    • 1 medium onion diced
    • 1 green bell pepper, diced
    • 2 28 oz cans diced tomatoes (I use mexican style w/ green chiles)
    • 2 medium zucchini – diced
    • 2 medium yellow squash diced
    • 15 oz can black beans – rinsed & drained
    • 2 cans fat free low sodium beef broth
    • 4 celery stalks diced
    • 1 or 2 packages dry chili seasoning or to taste

    NOTE: This is the original recipe. I usually use low sodium chicken broth. I use one packet of the chili seasoning.

    Ingredients

    Saute turkey, pepper, and onion in the bottom of a large stock pot until browned.

    Into the pot

    Add remaining ingredients and simmer over medium heat until veggies are tender (about 30 minutes).

    Cooking

    I like to simmer mine for a while longer to help the flavors blend, but it’s definitely not necessary.

    Makes approximately 20, one cup servings.

    NOTE: When I freeze tis I freeze it in ziploc bags, laying flat, in both one and two cup portions.

    Buffalo Chicken Chili

    I am not the biggest fan of Rachael Ray’s cooking. I’m not quite sure why.  I have tried a recipe or two and they always go pear shaped.

    That being said, one morning while home sick from work, I watched Rachael make this Buffalo Chicken Chili with a group of firemen. It was intriguing. There were firemen. It looked simple and – to quote Ms. Ray – Yumm-o.

    Aside from my least favorite kitchen chore – CHOPPING – this is really easy to put together. The end result is fabulous! This is perfect Super Bowl grub. Buffalo Wings without the fat and bones!

    • 1 T extra-virgin olive oil
    • 2 T butter
    • 2 pounds all-white meat ground chicken breast
    • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
    • 1 large onion, chopped
    • 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
    • 5 large cloves garlic, chopped
    • 1 tablespoon smoked paprika
    • 1 bay leaf
    • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
    • 2 cups chicken stock
    • 1/4 to 1/2 cup hot sauce, depending on how hot you like it
    • 1 15-ounce can tomato sauce
    • 1 15-ounce can crushed tomatoes
    • 1 7-ounce bag yellow corn chips
    • 1 7-ounce bag blue corn chips
    • 3/4 pound blue cheese, crumbled, recommended type Maytag Blue
    • 1/2 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

    NOTE: I skipped the parsley. I just didn’t think it was necessary.

    Place a large pot over medium-high heat, add the olive oil and the butter. Once the butter has melted and the pot is hot, add the ground chicken. While browning, using the back of a wooden spoon to break the chicken into small pieces, about 5-6 minutes.

    Add the carrots, onions, celery, garlic, paprika, bay leaf and salt and pepper. Cook, stirring frequently, for about 3-4 minutes. Add the chicken stock and scrape up any brown bits on the bottom of the pot. Add the hot sauce, tomato sauce and crushed tomatoes, and bring to a bubble. Simmer for 8-10 minutes to let the flavors come together.

    While the chili is simmering, spread the yellow and blue corn chips out on a cookie sheet. Top with the crumbled blue cheese and transfer to the oven to melt the cheese, about 4-5 minutes. Remove from the oven and sprinkle with the chopped parsley.

    NOTE: You can melt the cheese onto the chips in the broiler, but watch it, it goes from melting to scorched in a nanosecond! Yes, I had to do this twice.

    Tis is really an easy recipe. Good for a crowd, easy to double. Comes together quickly, but has a long cooking taste to it.

    Top each serving of buffalo chicken chili with a few blue cheese-topped corn chips.