Adventures of an unfussy foodie.

March 04, 2015

Creamy Chicken Soup with Wild Rice

In the week after my baby was born this past fall, we were treated so kindly by friends who brought meals to keep us going while we adjusted to this new person in our lives. Ever since this soup was brought to us, I have been obsessing over it.

My husband and I kept shoveling it into our mouths and picking out ingredients. The usual suspects were there; carrots, onion, celery, chicken. Wild rice, which was obvious, since it was chicken and wild rice soup. Then there were so many scrumptious surprises. Corn! Mushrooms! Almonds! Was that a wheat berry? Nom nom nom.

Here it is, four months later -- wait, really? Yes. Four months. And I'm still geeking out about this soup. Spring is here in the Pacific Northwest. The blossoms are out, the temperatures are warming up, and I might be the only person here still making soup. This is THAT good.

When I begged asked for their recipe, I wasn't at all surprised to find that it was from Mel's Kitchen Cafe. That woman has a gift. Her recipe calls for just wild rice, which is lovely, but the friends who brought us soup had used a blend that had regular rice, wheat berries, AND wild rice and I have to say that it made a gigantic difference to me. So I found a rice blend at the store that had all of the yummy things I was looking for. You can obviously use regular wild rice if that's what you like or have available.

Since it's still bitterly cold in some places (like, hey Texas, what's up with the snow this year?) I think you need this soup. Snuggle up and enjoy it! I swear it's worth the effort.

Creamy Chicken Soup with Wild Rice
from Mel's Kitchen Cafe

1/2 c. butter
1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped
1/2 c. celery, sliced
1/2 c. carrots, sliced
1 cup frozen corn
1/2 lb. fresh mushrooms, sliced
3/4 c. flour
6 c. chicken broth
1 lb. cooked, cubed chicken
2 c. cooked wild rice blend or cooked wild rice
(we use the whole grain Royal Blend from Rice Selects)
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. mustard powder
1 tsp. dried parsley
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1 c. slivered or sliced almonds (I prefer slivered, but I've used sliced in a pinch and it was still great)
2 c. half & half

In a large pot, melt butter over medium heat. Add onion, celery, and carrot and sauté until onions are translucent. Add corn and mushrooms, and sauté for a minute or two more. Stir in flour to coat veggies, continuing to stir until the flour has absorbed the moisture in the pan and no longer smells raw. Pour in chicken broth and stir well. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer and let thicken slightly. As the soup thickens, be sure to scrape up any bits stuck to the bottom of the pan.
When mixture has thickened enough to coat the back of your spoon, add in chicken, rice, salt, curry powder, mustard powder, parsley, pepper, and almonds. Then add the half & half and let simmer (NOT boil) for about an hour, stirring occasionally to ensure it doesn't scorch on the bottom of the pot.

February 26, 2015

Microwave Vanilla Bean Lemon Curd

There's nothing, really, all that complicated about it, but I still shy away from recipes including the term "double boiler". I mean, it's just a bowl placed over a pan of simmering water, but still, it seems like such a hassle.

So, years ago I found this recipe for microwave lemon curd and I have never strayed since. It just couldn't be simpler. Stir everything together and nuke it a little at a time until it's thick and creamy... 
Oh sorry.
It's so embarrassing when I drool on my keyboard like that. 
But I can't help it. Lemon curd has that effect on me.

This recipe is especially and embarrassingly simple, and yet it yields really fantastic results.

Honestly, it's amazing to me what I can manage to pass off as impressive. Since our second child was born, my husband has been cooking more, and I fear much of my mystique is wearing off as he discovers how easy most of the recipes I employ really are. He frequently says things like, "That's all there is to it?", and I have to admit that, yes, that's all there is to it.

At least I've still got my looks and good humor, right?

This lemon curd was particularly amazing with this blueberry cake from Gimme Some Oven. I ate way more of it than I should have. No regrets, friends. No regrets.

Microwave Vanilla Bean Lemon Curd

3 whole eggs
1 c. sugar
zest of 2 lemons
1/2 c. fresh lemon juice (about 3 lemons worth)
seeds of one vanilla bean
pinch of salt

1 Tbsp. unsalted butter (optional)

Combine all ingredients except butter in a microwave-safe bowl -- I often use my quart-size glass measuring cup. Mix thoroughly. Place in microwave, and cook on high one minute. Stir. Continue to cook in microwave on high in 30 second intervals, stirring after each one, until mixture becomes thick and coats the back of a spoon. The time this takes will vary based on your microwave. The mixture may still be a touch runny, but will thicken upon standing. If desired, stir in 1 tbsp. butter to enrich the curd and mellow the zing of the lemon a bit. (I like it very zingy, so I don't usually do this.)

Wondering what to do with your lemon curd?
It is completely delicious as a topping on plain cheesecake.

January 30, 2015

Big Batch Freezer-Friendly Hummus

It's time I owned the truth: I have a picky preschooler on my hands.
I'm not sure what has happened over the past couple of months, but my big boy, who used to be excited to try new things and loved all sorts of foods is suddenly unwilling to taste his dinner and eating like a bird.

I know.
It's normal.
Blah blah blah.

At least he'll eat fresh fruit and veggies with wild abandon. But protein? Good day to you, sir. But, happily. you know what else he loves? Hummus. He'll eat hummus and veggies for any occasion, and it is a sanity saver.

And so. A big batch of hummus cannot go amiss in my house.

The night I made this hummus, I could not stop eating it! I don't know what it is about this hummus, but it was absolutely the most amazing hummus I'd ever had, and certainly the best I've ever made. And the best thing is, I've still got a stockpile! Something to get us through this picky-kid wasteland of simple carbs.

And while we're on the subject of carbs, have you tried these Pita Bite Crackers from Trader Joe's? If not, you should. And while you're at it, scoop up some of this hummus to go with it. You won't regret it.

Big Batch Freezer-Friendly Hummus
from The Homemade Pantry by Alana Chernila

7 c. cooked chickpeas
10 - 15 cloves garlic, minced
2/3 c. fresh lemon juice (from about 3 lemons)
1/2 c. tahini
1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/2 c. chopped fresh parsley
2 Tbsp. good olive oil

Combine all ingredients in a food processor. Process until uniformly smooth, stopping to scrape sides as needed. Taste and adjust salt to taste.

Transfer to airtight containers for storage. Put some in the fridge to snack on -- it will keep for 4 days to a week. Put the rest in freezer-safe containers. Will keep for about 6 months. To thaw, set in refrigerator for a day or so. Stir to recombine any liquid that may have separated (in my experience, there will only be a little bit).

Makes about 7 cups.

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