Greek-Lemon Chicken Soup

Hello World!!!!  I’m in the middle of writing my Ph.D. thesis, and fully expect the sporadic posting schedule to continue. However, I have grown to enjoy the convenience of having my favorite recipes available to me in one location whenever I want them (or whenever I have WiFi access), so I’m popping in quickly on this Friday to add another entry in my online recipe book.

This soup, which is known as Avgolemono in Greek, has quickly become a new favorite lunch dish. I adapted this recipe from a couple of sources, and finally have it just the way I like it. I love that this soup is very similar to chicken noodle soup (which I love), but has orzo pasta and a nice tang from the lemon juice to give some variety!  Enjoy!

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Greek-Lemon Chicken Soup

Adapted from: Food Network & Good Housekeeping (February 2015)

Lemony-Greek Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

Base:

2-3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

2 qt. water

½ teaspoon poultry seasoning

2 large carrots, sliced

2 teaspoons salt (optional)

1 teaspoon ground pepper

Soup:

1 bunch green onion, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons olive oil

2/3 cup orzo pasta

1/2 cup fresh lemon juice

2 large eggs

Instructions:

In a stock pot, boil base ingredients for 1 hour.

Meanwhile, heat the oil in a separate pan over medium heat and add the onions. Cook the onions about 5 minutes, and then set aside.

When chicken is tender and cooked through, remove from broth and cut into 1 inch pieces and set aside. If the liquid has reduced too much you should add some more water at this point (I usually add about 1 quart of water).

After the chicken has been removed from the broth (and additional water added), set aside 2 cups of broth. Then, add the orzo pasta to the gently boiling broth and cook to al dente. Note: my box of orzo recommends under-cooking the orzo by 1-3 minutes since it will continue to cook in the soup after its “cooking” time.

While the orzo is cooking, beat the lemon juice and eggs together in a bowl. Pour the 2 cups of broth slowly into the bowl, whisking continuously. Once all the broth is incorporated, add the mixture into the pot. Finally, return the chicken to the pot and stir to blend well throughout. Serve hot.

 

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Pumpkin Chili

So I know April is a little past prime pumpkin season for most people, but I like to eat it all year. I found this recipe a couple of months ago, and it has quickly become one of my favorite lunch go-to’s. It’s simple, tasty, and if you invest the 30 or so minutes it takes to make you will eat great for days!

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Pumpkin Chili

Adapted from: Fitness Magazine (January 2015)

Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients:

1 tablespoon canola oil

1 medium onion, diced

1 (14.5 oz) can of diced tomatoes

1 can of pure (100%) pumpkin

1 can of black beans

1/2 cup uncooked bulgur wheat

1 teaspoon dried chipotle pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1/2 tablespoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

3/4 teaspoon salt (optional)

2 1/2 cups water

Instructions:

In a large soup pot (or Dutch oven), heat the vegetable oil over medium-high heat. Then, add the onion, garlic, and salt (optional). Stir occasionally and cook for about 5 minutes, or until the onion is soft and translucent.

Next, add the tomatoes, pumpkin, beans, chipotle pepper, bulgur, cumin, black pepper, and water to the pot. Mix well and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low and stir again. Cover and cook for 15-20 minutes, or until the bulgur is soft.

Notes:

Ideas for garnishing: avocado slices, plain greek yogurt, tortilla chips, and/or cilantro sprigs.

Sesame Peanut Noodles

Woo–my first recipe post of 2015!!!! I actually hadn’t planned to do a recipe post this week, but I’ve fallen into some bad habits with my recipe posting cycle. It usually goes a little something like this: 1) make a new dish, usually add a few tweaks, 2) take picture of said creation and make big plans for a forthcoming post, and finally 3) get busy/lazy and forget the tweaks I made to the recipe when (or if) I finally finish the post. In short, it’s not a very efficient system.

I was reminded of this cycle of inefficiency as I was making this noodle dish the past weekend. I’ve made it a couple of times before and decided to tweak the original recipe. I really liked the changes I made and didn’t want to forget them, so I decided to get this post done ASAP! So here it is world!

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Sesame Peanut Noodles

Adapted from: Good Housekeeping

Sesame Peanut Noodles

Ingredients:

2 cups cooked chicken

*~1 pound Rice Noodles (I used a 14 oz box)

1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 small red bell pepper, thinly sliced

1 medium onion, thinly sliced.

1 large Kirby cucumber, cut in half lengthwise and sliced into half-moons (optional)

peanut sauce

1/3 cup creamy peanut butter

1/4 cup lower-sodium soy sauce

3 tablespoons rice vinegar

1 tablespoon toasted sesame oil

Dash of crushed red pepper (optional)

~1/2 cup water

garnish

1 cup fresh cilantro leaves

Sriracha (hot chili sauce)

*See notes at the end of the recipe

Instructions:

Heat large covered pot of salted water to boiling on high. Cook pasta as label directs.

In a large bowl, whisk together peanut butter, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil, a dash of crushed red pepper (if desired), and about 1/2 cup of water. Note: To avoid making the sauce too thin, I add the water in stages to achieve the desired viscosity level. The exact amount of water I use varies–sometimes more, sometimes less than 1/2 cup. The result should be a smooth, easily stir-able sauce that is not too thin or too viscous. Set aside.

Meanwhile, heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet. Add garlic, onion, and red pepper. Sauté, stirring occasionally, until the onions are soft. Stir in the cooked chicken and warm for 3-5 minutes. Turn the heat to low and add the peanut sauce. Warm for about 5 minutes.

Finally, the add pasta and cucumber to the skillet. Toss until well coated. Garnish with cilantro. Serve with Sriracha, if desired.

Notes:

1) The original recipe calls for spaghetti noodles, but I prefer rice noodles in this dish. Obviously this is a personal preference, so use whatever noodles make you happy. 🙂  

2) We only had an orange bell pepper on hand the day I took this picture. It works just as well as a red one!

Bacon Chicken Breast with Sweet Potato Mash

Apparently I’m on a bacon roll right now with my recipe postings, but there are worse things I could be on a roll with! I made this on a recent weeknight for dinner and was surprised by how easy and tasty it was. I will definitely be making this again!

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Bacon Chicken Breast with Sweet Potato Mash

Adapted from: Good Housekeeping

Bacon Chicken Cutlets and Sweet Potato

Ingredients:

2 sweet potatoes, pricked with fork

4-6 strips bacon

1 pound chicken breasts (I used four 1/4-1/2 pound chicken breasts)

1/4 teaspoons salt

1/4 teaspoons pepper

1/4 cups flour

1/2 cups milk

1/2 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoons pressed garlic

1 cups lower-sodium chicken broth

2 tablespoons lemon juice

Instructions:

Cook bacon in 12-inch skillet on medium-high heat for 5 minutes or until crisp. Reserve drippings–don’t clean the pan!

Season chicken cutlets with 1/4 teaspoon each salt and pepper, and then dredge in flour. Cook chicken in bacon drippings on medium-high heat for 6-10 minutes or until cooked through (165 degrees F), turning once.

Meanwhile, microwave sweet potatoes (make sure they have been pricked with fork) on high 10 minutes or until tender, turning over once. Scoop potato flesh into medium bowl, and mix with milk and 1/4 teaspoon salt.

When chicken has finished cooking, transfer chicken to plates. Stir pressed garlic into skillet and cook for 30 seconds. Add chicken broth and lemon juice to the skillet and cook 3 minutes.

Serve chicken with sauce, bacon, mash, and mash.

Notes:

Steamed broccoli (shown in the picture above) goes really well with this dish!

Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

I love bacon AND macaroni and cheese, but when pair of good friends suggested that I combine them I have to admit I was skeptical. Boy was I wrong–one bite of their delicious mac and cheese and I was hooked! They kindly shared the recipe with me, and today I am sharing it with you all. This recipe is seriously good, and I probably make it about once a month. I actually had to stop work on this post to have lunch because the picture of the finished dish was making me massively hungry. Enjoy!

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Bacon Macaroni and Cheese

Adapted from: Food Network & Kayla and Alex

Bacon Mac and Cheese

Ingredients (* see note below):

Approximately 6 slices of bacon

*1 tablespoon Kosher salt (optional)

Vegetable oil

1 pound elbow macaroni or cavatappi

1 quart milk

*8 tablespoons (1 stick) butter, divided

1/2 cup all-purpose flour

4 cups Gruyere (or whatever cheese you desire), grated,

2 cups extra-sharp Cheddar, grated

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

*1 1/2 cups fresh white bread crumbs (5 slices, crusts removed)

Instructions:

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Cook bacon in a large skillet until browned and crispy. Remove the bacon from the skillet and let cool. Once bacon is cool enough to touch, crumble into pieces by hand.

Drizzle oil into a large pot of boiling water. Add the macaroni and cook according to the directions on the package, 6 to 8 minutes. Drain well.

Meanwhile, heat the milk in a small saucepan, but don’t boil it.

In a separate large pot, melt 6 tablespoons of butter and then add the flour. Cook over low heat for 2 minutes, stirring with a whisk. While whisking, add the hot milk and cook for a minute or two more, until thickened and smooth. Off the heat, add the Gruyere (or desired cheese), Cheddar, bacon, salt (optional), pepper, and nutmeg. Add the cooked macaroni and stir well. Pour into a 3-quart baking dish.

Note: if you are using store-bought bread crumbs, skip this step. Otherwise, melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and combine with the fresh bread crumbs.

Sprinkle the breadcrumbs on top of the macaroni and cheese.

Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until the sauce is bubbly and the macaroni is browned on the top.

 Notes:

1) I’m lazy and don’t use fresh bread crumbs. I merely use enough of the store-bought kind to cover the top of the mac and cheese and call it good!

2) If you use store bought bread crumbs, you only need 6 tablespoons of butter.

3) I’ve never used the salt. It’s delicious without it!

 

Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

I have a love-hate relationship when it comes to restaurant copy cat recipes. In theory, it sounds like a great idea (oh boy I can recreate my favorite restaurant dishes at home!), but rarely does the end result actually end up tasting like the beloved dish. I’ve tried copy cat recipes for many different dishes, but have never posted them here because the end result was disappointing every single time. Until now.

It’s a poorly kept secret here at Ex Libris that I love soup. A lot. I’m “that person” who orders a bowl of soup at a restaurant and only a bowl of soup. And yes, that is all I really want for my meal, thank you very much. One of my favorite restaurant soups has always been Chili’s Chicken Enchilada soup. I’ve tried many different recipes for enchilada soup (including this slow cooker version), but ultimately was unsatisfied because none of them had the rich taste and thick texture of the Chili’s original. But I’m happy to report that I have finally found the recipe! I’ve made this soup twice now, and have loved it both times. Enjoy!

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Chili’s Chicken Enchilada Soup

Adapted from: Food.com & CopyKat Recipes

photo

Ingredients (* see note below):

Soup:

1 tablespoon vegetable oil

1 lb cooked chicken breast, diced 

2 (medium) onions, diced

2 cups crushed tomatoes

1 garlic clove, minced

1 quart chicken broth

1.5-2 quarts water

*2 cups masa harina

can enchilada sauce

*1/2 lb processed American cheese, cut in small cubes

2 teaspoon ground cumin

2 teaspoon chili powder

*1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

*1 teaspoon salt, to taste (optional)

Garnish:

Shredded Cheese

Crumbed tortilla chips

Instructions:

In a large pot, add the vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the onions, and cook until soft and translucent (or about 5 minutes). Then, add the garlic, cumin, chili powder, cayenne, and salt (optional). Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the masa harina and 1 quart of water in a large bowl. Stir until all the lumps dissolve. Then, add the masa harina to the large pot and mix well. Once the mixture starts to bubble, cook for an additional 2-3 minutes while stirring constantly.

Stir in the broth, remaining water (Note: I usually only add 2 cups instead of 4), enchilada sauce, tomatoes, and cheese. Mix well and bring to a boil.

Add the chicken to the soup. Reduce heat and simmer soup 30-40 minutes or until thick.

Serve soup in cups or bowls and garnish with shredded cheese and tortilla chips.

Notes:

1) Masa harina is a flour made from specially treated corn, and it is frequently used to make things like tortillas and tamales. You should not substitute the masa with corn flour or cornmeal because you will not get the same results. Besides, why would you want to? It gives the soup a wonderful flavor! It’s frequently found in the “international” section of a well stocked supermarket.

2) After reading Salt, Sugar, Fat I had a knee jerk reaction when I saw this soup called for “processed American cheese.” I was dead set on using the good stuff, but after doing some reading in my cookbooks and on the Internet I decided to go ahead and use American cheese. Apparently, the processing gives the “cheese” a resistance to separating during cooking and therefore retains its taste and texture. If you are dead set on using natural cheese, I would add some extra cooking time to allow the cheese to melt.

3) The original recipe calls for 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper. I doubled this to a full teaspoon because I like some spice to my food. If you prefer milder dishes, I would recommend only using 1/2 teaspoon.

4) As usual, I didn’t add the salt and I didn’t miss it.

Easy Yeast Bread

Happy Friday everyone! I’m back today with another recipe!

A few months ago I decided I wanted to start baking bread (’cause why not!?!). I started simple by using recipes that didn’t require yeast (and therefore rising, kneading, rolling etc), but felt it was time to challenge myself with a yeast bread recipe. Since I was a beginner, I wanted something that was simple to make but still delicious to eat. After trolling the internet for awhile, I decided this recipe fit the bill. I made a few changes to the original recipe after reading reviewer comments, and I think it really helped with the end result. Enjoy!

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Easy Yeast Bread

Adapted from: About.com

Easy Yeast Bread

Ingredients:

3/4 cup warm water

1 package active dry yeast

1 tsp salt

1-1/2 tbsp sugar

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup milk

3 cups all-purpose flour, approximately

Instructions:

In medium bowl, mix 2 cups of flour with the salt. Set aside.

In large bowl, add the warm water. Slowly stir in dry yeast. Continue to stir until yeast is dissolved. Add the sugar and stir.

Next, add olive oil and milk to bowl and mix well. Then, add in the flour/salt mixture and stir.

If needed, begin adding more flour, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough chases the spoon around the bowl. I added an extra 1/2 – 3/4 cup of flour, but this number will vary depending on factors such as the weather.

Turn dough out onto floured board and knead, adding small spoonfuls of flour as needed, until the dough is soft and smooth, not sticky to the touch.

Put the dough in buttered bowl, and turn dough over so that the top of dough is greased. Cover and let rise in warm spot for 1 hour.

After the dough has risen, punch down dough. Then, turn out onto floured board and knead. Meanwhile, preheat oven at 375 degrees F.

Form dough into loaf and set in buttered bread pan. Cover and let rise on top of the oven for about 30-60 minutes.

Score dough by cutting three slashes across the top with a sharp knife. Put in oven and bake for about 30-45 minutes, or until golden brown. Important note: my oven runs hot so I end up baking the bread for only about 25-30 minutes. Many other reviewers have also noted that 45 minutes was too long for them as well. Therefore, I recommend starting the baking time at 30 minutes and working your way up from there.

Turn out bread and let cool on a rack or clean dishtowel.

Notes:

If you’ve never kneaded dough before, this is a good tutorial video: How To Knead

If you’ve never “punched down the dough” before, here is a good tutorial video: Punching Down the Dough

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