Weeknight Spicy Chicken Soup

Spicy Chicken Soup

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Weeknight Spicy Chicken Soup
As the weather cools, we start eating more and more soups. I would never have tried this without the urging of J. It doesn't sound delicious.  Plus when he told me it was a Bon Appétit recipe, I thought it would be way too complicated and complex. Turns out, it's super simple and  does taste delicious. It's definitely a new favorite. We've used leftover turkey and rotisserie chicken and both have been wonderful. The recipe says it serves four, but it can stretched to serve more, or cooked down longer to serve less.
Course Main Dish
Servings
people
Ingredients
Course Main Dish
Servings
people
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Pick meat from chicken, shred, and place in a small bowl (you should have about 4 cups); discard skin and bones.
  2. Heat oil in a large saucepan over medium-high heat.
  3. Add onion and mushrooms and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened and golden, about 8–10 minutes.
  4. Add garlic and ginger and cook, stirring often, about 2 minutes; season with salt and pepper.
  5. Add shredded chicken, broth and cayenne and bring to a boil.
  6. Turn heat to low.
  7. Add spinach and divide soup among bowls.
  8. Top with scallions and serve lime wedges alongside for squeezing over.
Recipe Notes

My opinion:
That's it, really. It takes a total of between 15 and 20 minutes to prep everything and about 40 minutes to cook per the recipe.  This recipe is easy enough to be a weeknight dinner. If you let it cook down longer or reheat it for lunch the next day, the flavors intensify and meld together even more. If I am planning to eat it the next day, I leave the spinach out and add it in right before eating.  I adore this dish!

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Shakshuka (Eggs in purgatory)

Shakshuka

During the last few months of my pregnancy, I had to increase my protein intake. Lucky for me, J found several recipes that tasted good, included several servings of vegetables and had lots of protein. This one from Tori Avey with a few modifications quickly became one of our favorites.

You can modify the spice level based on your tastes. If you want to add more eggs, feel free! It’s just as good the next morning on toast like huevos rancheros.

Print Recipe
Shakshuka (Eggs in purgatory)
Servings
Ingredients
Servings
Ingredients
Instructions
  1. Heat a deep, large skillet or sauté pan on medium (we use our cast iron skillet for this).
  2. Heat olive oil in the pan.
  3. Add chopped onion, sauté for a few minutes until the onion begins to soften.
  4. Add garlic and continue to sauté until mixture is fragrant.
  5. Add the bell pepper, sauté for 5 to 7 minutes over medium heat until softened.
  6. Add tomatoes and tomato paste to pan, stir to blend.
  7. Add spices and sugar, stir well, and allow mixture to simmer over medium heat for another 5 to 7 minutes until it starts to reduce.
  8. Taste the mixture and spice it according to your preferences.
  9. At a minimum, add salt and pepper to taste.
  10. You can also add more sugar for a sweeter sauce, or more cayenne pepper for a spicier shakshuka.
  11. Sprinkle the feta over the dish, or mix it in if you like.
  12. Then crack the eggs, one at a time, directly over the tomato mixture, making sure to space them evenly over the sauce. In our cast iron skillet, we can get about five eggs around the outer edge and one in the center.
  13. The eggs will cook over easy on top of the tomato sauce. If you prefer more done eggs, you can heat the oven to 350 degrees and cook in the oven until set (when the skillet is jiggled, the eggs don't jiggle back).
  14. We leave the mixture uncovered and let simmer for between 5 and 15 minutes, or until the eggs are cooked and the sauce has slightly reduced.
  15. Be careful at this point, because the mixture can go from reducing to burning quickly. 
  16. Serve in a bowl alone, over rice or with some french bread.

My opinion:
This dish is delicious hot or cold. With sides or alone. It’s easy, filling and perfect for a late fall evening.

p.s. Summer 2016 update: without the cayenne pepper and the chili powder, our toddler loves this dish. We just add the extra spices onto our own plates. 

Updated: Best Macaroni and Cheese Ever

IMG_6185

I know I said this was the best macaroni and cheese recipe, ever, but I was wrong. This one is. I promise. It’s delicious no matter the season and equally good in the dead winter as it is on a hot summer day.

Ingredients:
1 box Elbow macaroni uncooked
1/2 cup Butter (1-stick)
1/4 cup All-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Salt
1/4 teaspoon Pepper (if you’re feeling adventurous, use white pepper)
1/4 teaspoon Dry mustard (we occasionally add a bit more up to a 1/2 teaspoon)
1/8 teaspoon Cayenne pepper (we occasionally add a bit more up to a 1/2 teaspoon)
1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire Sauce
2 cups Milk (we use skim)
2 cups Sharp cheddar cheese (8-oz), grated (you can use more, we occasionally use up to 10 ounces, it just becomes cheesier and more delicious)
About 1 cup panko crumbs

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. In a large pot of boiling water cook the pasta to al dente. While macaroni is cooking, melt butter in a heavy-bottomed 3-quart saucepan over low heat. Whisk in flour, salt, pepper, mustard, cayenne and Worcestershire sauce. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until mixture is smooth and bubbly; remove from heat. Stir in milk. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly (this is important or it bubbles over). Boil for about one minute, stirring constantly; remove from heat. Stir in cheese and cook, stirring occasionally, until cheese is melted. Drain macaroni and gently stir into cheese sauce. (Or pour the cheese sauce over the macaroni (whichever pot is bigger). Just make sure to mix it all together. Pour the entire mixture into ungreased 2-quart casserole. Sprinkle panko on top. Bake uncovered until bubbly, about 25 to 30 minutes. Set broiler to low (or high if you’re adventurous!) and broil until the top is a nice golden brown. Remove from oven and rest for five minutes before serving.

My opinion:
While this looks complicated, it really isn’t and is easy to make for a weeknight meal. We make the whole batch at once and then usually freeze half. It is deceptively filling. If eating for a hot summer (or later summer dinner) let it come to at least room temperature before eating. Winter, eat it hot. Enjoy!

Jamaican Jerk Chicken

Jamaican Jerk Chicken
Jamaican Jerk Chicken

I’ll admit I was skeptical about this recipe. But after one bite, I wasn’t skeptical at all. It was deliciously flavorful and less labor intensive than we thought it would be. Warning: it’s pretty filling.

Ingredients:
1 tb Ground allspice
1 tb Dried thyme
1 1/2 ts Cayenne pepper
1 1/2 ts Black Pepper freshly ground
1 1/2 ts Ground sage
3/4 ts Ground nutmeg
3/4 ts Ground cinnamon
2 tb Salt
2 tb Garlic powder
1 tb Sugar
1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c Soy sauce
3/4 c White vinegar
1/2 c Orange juice
Juice of 1 lime
1 Scotch bonnet pepper, Seeded and finely chopped (if you can’t find this, feel free to use a habanero)
1 c white onion Chopped
3 Green onions finely chopped
4 6-oz Chicken breasts Trimmed of fat, up to 8-oz each

Directions:
In a large bowl, combine the allspice, thyme, cayenne pepper, black pepper, sage, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt, garlic powder and sugar. With a wire whisk, slowly add olive oil, soy sauce, vinegar, orange juice and lime  juice. Add the Scotch bonnet pepper (we used habaneros since we couldn’t find Scotch Bonnet), onion and green onions and mix well. Reserve about a cup or so of the marinade to use later. Add the chicken breasts, cover and marinate for at least an hour, but the longer the better! Remove the breasts from the marinade and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes. If you prefer a sear, turn on the broiler and broil each side first for a few minutes and then bake. Or if you prefer, fire up the grill and cook for 6 minutes on each side or until fully cooked. While grilling or baking, baste with the left over marinade. Heat the rest of the leftover marinade and serve on the side for dipping (we just did this on the stove). If you prefer more intense flavors, feel free to double the spices.

My opinion:
Even without doubling the spices, this was plenty hot. It was the right combination of sweet and spicy and the chicken was very moist. We will try this on the grill next time! The rice and slaw will be in another post. I”m having trouble locating the original recipes to link back to at the moment.

The best Macaroni and Cheese Ever


I love a good blue box dinner every once in a while. To be truthful, I compare every other macaroni and cheese dish against that standard. I blame nostalgia over anything else. Lately, J has taken over more of the cooking responsibilities in our house. Since he likes to try new dishes and tweak old ones, I’ve been spoiled. When he made this macaroni and cheese dish this weekend, I told him we could never go back to the blue box. Ever.

Ingredients:
4 to 5 cups uncooked elbow macaroni
4 tablespoons butter (plus 2 tablespoons to mix with cooked pasta)
4 large garlic cloves, minced garlic (the original recipe called for 2 cloves, but since we like garlic, we used more)
1 teaspoon onion powder (in the future, we’ll use regular diced onions)
1 teaspoon mustard powder
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (while the original recipe said this was optional at 1/4 teaspoon, but we like cayenne)
3 tablespoons flour
3 cups half-and-half cream (reserve a little or keep milk on hand to assist with the mixing)
1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese (we used a mixture of sharp and mild)
1 (16 ounce) package Velveeta cheese (cut into small cubes)
salt & freshly ground black pepper (to taste)
bread crumbs (we used our own, recipe to come!)

Directions:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a medium casserole dish (we used butter).  Cook the pasta in a pot of boiling salted water until al dente (do not overcook the pasta) drain but do not rinse. Place the pasta a bowl and mix with 2 tablespoons butter to prevent sticking; set aside.
Melt 4 tablespoons (1/4 cup) butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add in minced garlic, onion powder, mustard powder and cayenne pepper; stir with a wooden spoon for about 3 to 4 minutes. Add in flour and stir for about 1 minute (this should look like a paste). Slowly add cream (or milk if that’s what you’re using) and cook, stirring constantly over medium until bubbly and thickened. (This is when you will need to watch the heat, you may need to turn it down.) Reduce heat and add in both cheeses; mix until melted and smooth. (If you’re like us and the oil separates here and the mixture turns into a big glob. We added a bit more milk to loosen it.) Add in the cooked pasta and toss to combine. (Do this slowly! A little bit at a time. Otherwise, it will be a giant mess!) Transfer to baking dish. Sprinkle with bread crumbs. Bake 350 degrees F for about 20-25 minutes.

My opinion:
As I said above, I’ll never go back to the trusty blue box. I couldn’t stop eating this. Amazing.