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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.

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    Roasted Carrot Soup #SundaySupper

    carrot-soup

    It’s Sunday Supper time again. This week’s event – Fancy Appetizers – is being hosted by Wendy Wholistic Woman. Stop by and see her wonderful site!

    I love having a garden. I love growing many different kinds of vegetables. I don’t like trying to figure out what to do with it all so it doesn’t spoil.

    I can.

    I freeze.

    I cook and freeze.

    I get stumped.

    I flip through magazines.

    And lookie what I found!

    Roasted carrot soup with a tinge of ginger. This should work. The Dear One loves soup. Me? I’m not so crazy about soup. But this one is thick and rich. Unusual. Ginger. Besides, I get to try out my new immersion blender!

    I’m very happy now that I’ve made this – it’s snowing and cold and snowing. Soup is perfect! And the orange color is so cheery!

    • 1 lb. carrots, peeled and cut into 3-inch lengths
    • 1 Tbs. olive oil
    • 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
    • 1/2 medium onion, cut into medium dice (to yield about 3/4 cup)
    • 1 large rib celery, cut into medium dice (to yield about 1/2  cup)
    • 1 Tbs. minced fresh ginger (from about 1/2-inch piece, peeled)
    • 2 cups homemade or low-salt vegetable stock
    • 1 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1/8 tsp. ground white pepper
    • Chopped fresh chives or chervil for garnish (optional)

    Heat the oven to 375°F.

    carrots-peeled

    Place the carrots in a medium baking dish or on a baking sheet, you want the carrots in a single layer without touching. Drizzle carrots with the olive oil. Toss them to coat well and roast, for about one hour, stirring once halfway through roasting, until they’re tender, blistered, and lightly browned in a few places.

    chopped-ingredients

    Melt the butter in a 3-quart heavy saucepan set over medium heat. Add the onion and cook until it’s translucent and fragrant, 2 to 3 min. Stir in the celery and ginger and cook until the celery softens a bit and the onions start to brown, 4 to 5 min. Add the roasted carrots, chicken broth, salt, pepper, and 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to medium low, and cover. Cook at a lively simmer until the carrots are very tender, about 45 min. Turn off the heat and let the liquid cool.

    Purée the soup in a blender in batches, never filling the blender more than a third full, and bearing down firmly on the towel-covered lid so the soup doesn’t come flying out. An immersion blender is perfect for this! If serving immediately, return the soup to the pot and reheat; garnish with the chives or chervil if you like. Otherwise, refrigerate for up to five days; reheat gently and taste for salt before serving.

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    Sunday Supper MovementJoin the #SundaySupper conversation on twitter on Sunday! We tweet throughout the day and share recipes from all over the world. Our weekly chat starts at 7:00 pm ET. Follow the #SundaySupper hashtag and remember to include it in your tweets to join in the chat. To get more great Sunday Supper Recipes, visit our website or check out our Pinterest board. Would you like to join the Sunday Supper Movement? It’s easy. You can sign up by clicking here: Sunday Supper Movement.

    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.

    Tortilla Soup

    We had a slight reprieve from the weather. Slight. Short lived. We’re back to freezing our tuchuses (sp) off. With Spring less than a month away, all we can do is hold on tightly and pray for the best. Mother Nature has a funny way of keeping us on our toes – enough already, we’re sorry for whatever we did!

    I was very hesitant about this soup. It’s what my foodie friends and I would jokingly refer to as ‘Canna Soup’. A canna this, a canna that. Looking at the ingredients (below) there is very little ‘me’ in this recipe and a lot of dependence on ‘them’. I may change it up a bit next time and add some fresh veggies, some extra herbs, etc.

    This soup comes together so quickly, you’re done almost as soon as you start. Everything in one pot, everything at one time. Can’t possibly be easier than that.

    • 1 T olive oil
    • 4 garlic cloves, minced
    • 1 t chili powder
    • 2 cans (14 1/2 ozs each) diced tomatoes
    • 2 cans (15 ozs each) black beans, rinsed and drained
    • 1 can (14 1/2 ozs) reduced sodium chicken broth
    • 1 package (10 ozs) frozen corn kernels
    • s&p
    • 1 T fresh line juice
    • tortilla chips

    NOTE: If you use vegetable stock, this becomes vegetarian.

    Heat oil in a large saucepan.

    Add garlic and chili powder and cook until fragrant, about 1 minute.

    NOTE: Cooking dry spices for a moment or 2 before adding the rest of the ingredients really helps them release their flavor and aroma. I tend to do this all the time.

    Add tomatoes (with juice), beans, broth, corn and 1 cup of water. Season with s&p.

    Bring soup to a boil, reduce to a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice.

    NOTE: The original recipe called for 1 cup of crushed tortilla chips to be added at this point. I though they would turn into a soggy mess and decided to just serve them on the side.

    Serve soup with lime wedges and tortilla chips. A little sour cream or shredded cheddar would be nifty too!

    tortillasoupchallengegirlichef

    Italian Wedding Soup

    It’s been cold here – and not just in an ‘oh, I need a scarf today’ kinda way. This has been cold to the bone, mind numbing cold. The kind of cold that makes you longingly look back at home just seconds after leaving home. And this is during the shank of the day.

    Now imagine having to be out there in the middle of the night working. My poor lovey works way too hard, for too many hours, freezing. In order to keep him (semi) happy and warm, the soup of the week is adapted from Ina Garten’s Back to Basics.

    Meatballs

    • ¾ lb ground chicken
    • ½ lb chicken sausages, casings removed
    • 2/3 C fresh bread crumbs
    • 2 t  garlic, minced
    • 3 T fresh parsley, finely chopped
    • ¼ C freshly grated Pecorino Romano cheese
    • ¼ C freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano cheese, plus extra for serving
    • 3 T milk
    • 1 extra large egg, lightly beaten
    • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

    NOTE: For some reason my supermarket chose this week to be out of both chicken and Italian sausage. I was able to find already cooked Italian chicken sausage, so I just minced that up.  I used whole wheat bread for the bread crumbs.

    Soup:

    • 2 T good olive oil
    • 1 C yellow onions, minced
    • 1 C ¼” diced carrots (2-3 depending on the size of the carrots)
    • ¾ C ¼” diced celery
    • 10 C chicken broth
    • ½ C dry white wine
    • 1 C small pasta like tubetini or stars
    • ¼ C fresh dill, minced
    • 12 oz/340g baby spinach, washed and trimmed

    NOTE: I can’t say it enough, it was really very hard for me not to use my crappy olive oil. I am so glad Ina cleared it up by telling me I should use the good stuff. I cheated. I used stock in a box – low sodium stock in a box, but in a box just the same. I used a bag of baby spinach. It was a 10 oz. bag, but there was still a lot of spinach in the soup.

    We start with the meatballs.

    Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.

    Add all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl and combine gently with a fork. Using a teaspoon, drop small (1” or so) meatballs onto the baking sheet. There should be about 40 meatballs.

    NOTE: Being the lazy sod that I am, I used a cookie scoop. These really don’t need to be perfectly round meatballs.

    Bake for 30 minutes or until cooked through and lightly browned. Set aside.

    NOTE: I couldn’t resist. I had to try one. These are really good. You would be heard pressed to know that these were chicken and not beef.

    Now, for the soup.

    Heat the olive oil over medium low heat in a large heavy bottomed soup pot. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and sauté until softened (about 6 minutes or so), stirring occasionally.

    Add the chicken broth and wine and bring to a boil. Add the pasta to the simmering broth and cook until the pasta is tender. Add the fresh dill and then the meatballs to the soup and simmer for a couple of minutes. Taste and add salt & pepper if necessary.

    NOTE: I left out the dill. I forgot to buy it and really didn’t think it would make a big difference. I did add the pasta at this point. I knew this soup would be completely consumed within 5 days so the pasta would hold up. It you are going to make this and freeze it, skip the pasta. When you defrost the soup, cook a little bit of pasta and then stir it into the soup.

    Stir in the fresh spinach and cook for 1-2 minutes until the spinach leaves begin to wilt. Ladle into soup bowls and sprinkle each serving with extra grated Parmesan cheese.

    NOTE: Definitely a keeper and something to do again. It seems like a lot of ingredients and that it would be fiddley because of them, but this comes together easily and quickly. I know it’s good when I get a peck on the cheek after tasting!

    Split Pea Soup

    Oh, I wish I liked soup, I really do. I see so many wonderful recipes for soup, but I just don’t like eating it. Perhaps it’s the same reason I am not crazy about hot chocolate, hot coffee and hot tea … not crazy about hot liquids. Sadly, my husband loves soup.

    I occasionally believe we are the culinary equivalent of Jack Spratt and his wife. He doesn’t like crunchy potatoes or fries – I can’t live without them. He takes the skin off chickens and turkeys and – hang onto your hats – throws it away – I am sure that is a sacrilege somewhere.  Fried chicken? He doesn’t like it. Frosting? Nope, doesn’t like that either. Butter on Popcorn? Nope. And he loves soup. Sigh.

    He is playing this heart attack card to its fullest. Don’t get me wrong – I understand a appreciate the situation. BUT it was a mild heart attack, the doctor said he will be fine, it was strictly hereditary, and a little diet change, exercise and meds and he will continue to make me want to bang my head against the wall for many years to come. THANK GOD!

    ‘I really love soup. You know, I had a heart attack, soup would make me feel better.’

    ‘Really? What type of soup would make your heart attack feel better?’

    ‘Split Pea Soup.’

    REALLY? Of all the soups there are in the vast culinary world he picks SPLIT PEA SOUP. I was aghast, a little freaked out – speechless even – and for those of you who know me, that’s nearly impossible.  Who do you call for help in a situation like this? Well, for me – Ernie. She suggested the Split Pea Soup from Barbara Kafka’s Soup: A Way of Life. The recipe looked simple enough. Straight forward, not a lot of silly ingredients. I guess the man was getting Split Pea Soup after all.

    • 1 pound split peas
    • 1 small ham hock
    • 12 cups chicken stock
    • 2  bay leaves
    • 3 T vegetable oil
    • 4 medium carrots — 1/4 inch dice
    • 2 medium ribs celery — 1/4 inch dice
    • 1 large onion — 1/4 inch dice
    • 2 cloves garlic — smashed and peeled
    • kosher salt – to taste
    • cubed croutons – optional

    NOTE:  I chopped the garlic after I smashed it. I also found sliced ham hock at my market. It seemed that would be so much easier to deal with.

    In a tall narrow stockpot, bring the peas, ham hock, stock, and bay leaves to a boil. Lower the heat. Simmer for 1 hour and 30 minutes. Remove the ham hock and allow to cool slightly. Remove and discard the skin. Tear the meat into bite-sized pieces.

    While the soup is simmering, in a large frying pan, heat the oil over medium heat. Stir in the carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. Cook, stirring for 8 minutes.

    Stir the vegetables into the soup with the meat from the ham hock. Return to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Remove the bay leaves. Season with salt.

    Sprinkle some croutons on each portion or pass them.

    NOTE: He doesn’t like croutons either! The soup alone in the bowl looked sad and lonely, the croutons made a better photo. I tried the soup, with the croutons of course, it wasn’t as awful as I expected.  The soup was easy to put together, the most difficult part? All the chopping – and even that’s not much. The best part? My husband loved it, said it was delicious and better than his mother’s. Is there a greater compliment a husband could give his wife?