I am fully aware that I have no business talking about winter. Our California winter could barely be described as “mild.” But, I’ve become a wuss. Now, when it drops below 60, I need a big jacket and a beanie. That…and a big bowl of soup. On one particularly chilly day in February after I put my son to bed I needed 3 things: my cozy bathrobe, The Bachelor on DVR, and this soup.
My husband is always extremely complimentary about my cooking. I’m lucky that he likes most things so he’s pretty easy to please. He likes soup, but has this “thing”… he doesn’t consider soup a meal. An appetizer? Yes. Part of a meal? Sure. But soup period for dinner isn’t usually his first choice.
So you can imagine my surprise when he could not stop raving about this soup. Period.
In fact, it was this soup that made him say, “You really need to start blogging again. People need to know about this soup!” So, here it is!
The secret to this soup is the lemon. The recipe calls for a good amount (1/2 cup) of lemon juice – more than you’d find in most soups. But don’t worry, the soup doesn’t turn out sour at all. The acidity is the perfect offset for the bitterness of the kale. Using chicken thighs gives you the richness you need to make the soup hearty and the white beans bulk up the soup and add just the right texture. Everything works together in perfect harmony.
Go low carb and serve it as is, or get crazy and add a big hunk of warmed bread. For all of you in other parts of the country, this is just what you need to warm you up from those freezing temperatures. For those of you in California, I hear it is going to dip below 70 soon. Better have a bowl of this soup ready!
Recipe: Lemony Chicken, Kale, and White Bean Soup
6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs
10 oz package kale
1 can white beans, drained and rinsed
4 cloves garlic, chopped
2 large shallots, chopped
1/2 cup lemon juice
2 quarts chicken stock
lemon zest for garnish
salt and pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Salt and pepper chicken thighs. Roast 20-25 minutes. Coarsely chop. Set aside.
Preheat a large dutch oven over medium heat. Swirl with oil to coat. Add shallot and cook 1 minute, add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add chicken and cook 3 minutes.
Add stock, lemon juice, and kale. Bring liquid to a boil. Stir kale until it begins to wilt and all kale is covered by the liquid. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover partially and cook 15 minutes.
Add white beans. Cook 5-10 minutes more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Ladle into big bowls. Top with lemon zest and a drizzle of olive oil.
First things first…Happy Birthday MOM!!!! Hope you have a great day and wish I could be there to give you a big hug!! Or, make you this for dinner! Ok, back to the food…
Do you ever notice that the term “comfort food” seems to only apply to things that are really, really, bad for you? I am here to say it doesn’t have to be that way! Comfort food can be comforting, tasty, AND healthy!
When I was a kid I loved KFC chicken pot pies. I didn’t get them very often because my parents were those horrible types of parents that hardly ever let us eat fast food But when I did, it was pretty great. Now, I haven’t had one in almost 20 years, but I’m pretty sure this version tastes just as good and is way, way, WAY better for you!
This Chicken Pot Pie is “lightened up” in a couple of ways. First, you only use a top crust. Second, instead of thickening up the sauce with lots of butter and cream, I thickened it up with a flour and water mixture.
And of course, you pack it with veggies and roasted chicken breast.
This is a comfort food meal you don’t have to feel the least bit guilty enjoying. Grab a big bowl, a nice glass of wine (or water for me!), and cozy up with your honey. This recipe is going to be a frequent guest at our dinner table that’s for sure!
Recipe: Lightened Up Chicken Pot Pie
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
11/2 cups chopped carrot
11/2 cups chopped celery
1 large chopped onion
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
2 cups fat-free, lower sodium chicken broth
1.5 ounces (about 1/3 cup) all-purpose flour
1/3 cup water
2 cups (or more) diced cooked rotisserie chicken
1 1/2 cups frozen petite peas
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 refrigerated pie crust
1 lightly beaten egg
Preheat oven to 400°.
To prepare filling, melt 2 teaspoons butter in a Dutch oven over meduim-high heat. Add carrot, celery, onion, and thyme; cook 8 minutes or until vegetables are soft. Add broth; bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 10 minutes.
Combine flour and 1/3 cup water in a small bowl; stir with a whisk until smooth. Return veggie mixture to a boil. Slowly drizzle flour mixture into veggie mixture, stirring constantly.
Cook 1 minute or until mixture thickens. Stir in chicken, peas, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and pepper. Spoon chicken mixture into an 11 x 7-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with cooking spray.
Roll pie crust out on a lightly floured surface until big enough to fit over baking dish. Place dough on top of chicken mixture, pressing to edge of dish. Cut 4 slits in top of crust to allow steam to escape. Gently brush crust with beaten egg.
Bake at 400° for 50 minutes or until golden and bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes before serving.
You guys…T-6 days till one of the greatest days of the year!
Super Bowl Sunday! I love the Super Bowl every year. The snacks. The drinks. The football. The snacks. The commercials. The snacks.
Did I mention the snacks???
But if it’s possible, I’m even more excited for this year since my hometown team – the San Francisco 49ers – are in the big game! Full disclosure, I’m a bit of a bandwagon fan…my real hometown team, the Seattle Seahawks, missed out and a chance at winning it all because they couldn’t play defense for 30 seconds at the end of the game (I’m not bitter), but when you live in the area and have a husband that watches every game, pre-game, and post-game you get to know the team and have some Bay Area pride. I am also loving the Bro Bowl/Harbowl/Superbaugh business that’s going on. I think I like it because I imagine what it would be like if it were me going up against one of my siblings in the biggest game of the year. Someone is winning some serious bragging rights at next year’s Thanksgiving!
Ok, back to the snacks! You absolutely, positively, cannot under any circumstances have a Super Bowl party without buffalo wings. Don’t even try. It’s basically un-American. So make them. Better yet…make these.
Buffalo wings are probably one of the easiest Super Bowl snacks to make…and one of the most delicious to eat! These buffalo wings are baked, which I strongly prefer to their deep fried cousins. One they are baked you simply toss them in a mixture of butter, cayenne pepper, and Frank’s Red Hot Sauce. Don’t even think about trying another sauce. Frank’s and wings go hand in hand. No need to get too fancy here.
This quick and easy recipe is a crowd pleaser every time. I serve mine up with some homemade “blue cheese dressing.” AKA a container of blue cheese crumbles mixed with a cup of greek yogurt. No one will ever be the wiser. And you can dunk away without guilt.
Be sure put these wings on your menu for Sunday. Just be sure you grab a few…quick. Before you know it, the plate will look like this!
Recipe: Baked Buffalo Wings
1 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup Frank’s hot pepper sauce
5 pounds chicken wings, tips removed, drumettes and flats separated
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Mix pepper sauce ingredients in a medium bowl; let stand for 5 minutes. Whisk in hot sauce; keep warm.
Preheat oven to 400°. Set a wire rack inside each of 2 large rimmed baking sheets. Toss wings in oil, salt, and pepper. Divide wings between prepared racks and spread out in a single layer.
Bake wings until cooked through and skin is crispy, 45–50 minutes. Half way through, switch position of racks.
Are you ready for something warm? I am! I know a lot has been made recently of Californians’ inability to deal with cold weather…If you haven’t seen this video, check it out for a serious laugh! It is pretty darn funny for a girl from Washington to watch a group of California kids mesmerized by a tiny bit of ice that had formed on the slide. It was like it was the coolest thing they had ever seen! Pretty funny for someone who used to have to put on snow pants for recess!
My mom used to make this soup (or a better version of it!) all the time after we had roast chicken or turkey – you can easily substitute turkey for the chicken! And this was my first try recreating it myself. I have to say it turned out pretty great, but something’s always better about having your mom make it for you
If you’re looking for something to warm your belly this evening, and possibly defrost you from sub 60 degree temperatures this old-fashioned chicken noodle soup is just what you’re looking for!
This soup is packed with lots of veggies and tons of chicken. You can use leftover roasted chicken or roast some up just for this. OR you can grab one of the pre-roasted chickens at the supermarket…shhh..no one will know!!!
I like keeping my chicken and veggies in pretty big chunks. It makes the soup feel rustic and homemade.
I love making my own chicken stock. Sometimes on the weekend I’ll get a couple pots going on the stove and end up with quarts and quarts of the good stuff. This recipe really works best with homemade stock if you can swing it, but in a pinch, the store bought stuff works too.
I’ve heard the flu is going around…have you caught it yet? I got my flu shot already, so so far so good! I’m washing my hands like a madman though! This soup would be perfect if you’re feeling the beginnings of a bug, but it’s pretty darn good if you’re perfectly healthy too!
One batch of this will last you though a few chilly evenings. One tip is, when reheating the soup on day 2, add a few fresh noodles. Another trick I learned form good ol’ mom and it really makes a difference !
Recipe: Old Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup
4 cups chopped carrot
4 cups chopped celery
2 cups finely chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, minced
4-5 cups chopped, rosted chicken
8-10 cups chicken stock
2 cups dried egg noodles
2 tablespoons olive oil
salt and pepper
In a large pot heat 2 tablespoons olive oil over medium heat.
Add onion, celery, garlic, and carrot. Sautee ove medium heat for 7-10 minutes, until soft. Season with 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper.
Add chicken and chicken stock. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 30-40 minutes.
Add noodles and cook according to package directions.
Sometimes, weeknight dinners are tough. You get home from a long day of work and the last thing you want to do is open the fridge and see what’s doin’. Sometimes, spending hours over a cutting board, stove, or sink could not sound more…well, unappetizing.
Luckily, this dish is nothing like that!
This is a weeknight dinner everyone can get on board with. Even if you’ve had a super long day and thai/sushi/pizza/anythingthatcanbedelivered sounds like the best meal you can imagine. Even if you’ve got a full DVR and super ready to catch up on all the latest episodes of (insert your favorite show here). Actually, especially if that’s the case!
Why? Because this dish couldn’t be easier. After a teeny tiny bit of prep all you do is stick it in the oven and it’s time to relax. You’ll have time for a glass or two of wine and to fast forward through the commercials of one or two of your favorite shows. Ok, ok, you could also do laundry/check email/return phone calls/finish the Times crossword…but I recommend wine and tv
Oh, another thing. It’s absolutely delicious. And a dish you can feel great about eating (and having dessert!). AND if you really want to go for it…use paper plates and you’ll only have one dish to clean!
Recipe: One Pot Roasted Chicken with Sweet Potatoes and Apples
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
4 granny smith apples, chopped
3 medium sweet potatoes, chopped
1 medium yellow onion, chopped
3 tablespoons chopped sage
salt & pepper
extra virgin olive oil
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
Combine chopped sweet potatoes, apples, and onions in a large casserole or baking dish. Toss with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 1 teaspoon each salt and pepper.
Bake about 15 minutes, until the sweet potatoes just start to give when pressed. Remove from oven. Sprinkle on sage. Season chicken with olive oil, salt, and pepper. Place chicken on top of apples and sweet potatoes.
Return to the oven for an additional 20-25 minutes, until chicken is cooked through and apples and sweet potatoes are tender.
Do you guys get enough protein? Apparently, I don’t. Or so says my trainer. My solution? Chicken. And lots of it!
I know there are lots of great sources for protein, and don’t worry, I get my share of beans, lentils, (lots) of greek yogurt, and other foods, but chicken is just so easy and it can pretty much be added to everything. Chicken in my eggs for breakfast, chicken on my salads for lunch, and lots of chicken dinners. So to keep my husband from going crazy eating chicken every night, I’ve been getting creative in the kitchen and this recipe is one experiment that went very right.
Who doesn’t like dipping their chicken tenders in honey mustard sauce? I was always the kid who got like, twelve sauces with my chicken nuggets. One was definitely not enough. No wonder I still love dipping BBQ chicken in homemade honey mustard! The topping for this chicken is like a grown up honey mustard with fancy shoes.
The fancy shoes being the tarragon. You got that, right?
The honey holds this schemer <—-perfect word for what this is! together so that it forms a nice crust on top of the chicken. I served mine with some quinoa simply dressed in a bit of extra virgin olive oil and salt and pepper. The schemer is flavorful enough that when you mix it with the quinoa you don’t need anything else! Makes for a super fast, very healthy, really delicious weeknight meal.
This is definitely not your run of the mill chicken. Guaranteed to spice up any meal AND give you your protein fix!
This mango chutney chicken salad holds a special place in my heart. It was one of my first culinary creations…well, sort of. You see, the restaurant my family used to go to all the time had a mango chicken sandwich on the menu. I loved the sandwich, but one day when I was about 12 I decided I wanted a salad. None of the salads on the menu looked good to me, but I looooved that sandwich so my culinary wheels started turning. I asked the waitress if I could have the mango chicken sandwich as a salad. She said, “no problem!” and brought me the salad. Little did I know that was just the beginning…the salad was amazing, even better than the sandwich! So, I started ordering the sandwich as a salad all the time, and wouldn’t you know it, other people started asking about it. Pretty soon, they put the salad on the menu. Disappointedly, they didn’t call it “Tara’s Salad,” but I was still pretty impressed with myself. I had an idea and people liked it! I’ve been trying to achieve the same thing ever since!
Another victory for this salad? My husband said it was one of the best salads he has ever had.
It’s light, but filling enough for dinner. It’s has great texture, and a sweet/spicy/fresh combo thing going on that’s to die for.
Fill a medium sized pot with water, add chicken. Bring to a boil. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer 45 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken by hand or with two forks.
In a large bowl, combine chicken, mango, celery, red onion, yogurt, and chutney. Stir well to combine. Season with salt and pepper.
Arrange mixed greens on a plate. Squeeze about 1 teaspoon lemon juice over greens. Top with prepared chicken salad.
We’ve been grilling fools lately. We should really just keep the charcoal going round the clock so the ol’ Weber can be ready at a moment’s notice. Grilling is just my all time favorite method of cooking. Period. Especially in summer when you can stand outside, it’s still warm, and preferably you have one of these in your hand, while the smell of charcoal and cooked meat fills the air. Perfection.
Have you been grilling too? Need something to spice up your latest grilled offering? Hurry up and make this chimichurri.
All these blended herbs are so fresh they can brighten up nearly anything you can throw on the grill. I’ve dunked tri trip in it, drizzled it over grilled zucchini, slathered it on chicken, and soaked some crusty bread in this delicious green goodness.
It just keeps getting better. Everything I’ve tried it on works. Next up I want to grill some fish and dollop some chimichurri. If it’s half as good as it sounds in my head it will be a winner. You can also make a big batch and it keeps in the fridge really well. Not only that, but as it sits the flavors meld even further and things get really great.
Try this the next time you fire up your grill, I will be!
I hope everyone had a great weekend! I sure did! It was beautiful and sunny here, so I spent most of the weekend outside working on my garden and reading. My garden is really coming along! I even have some baby strawberries coming out! It is SO exciting!! I can’t wait to be able to make a meal with ingredients fresh from my backyard. I also spent much of the weekend tearing through the Marriage Pact. Have you guys read this book yet? I am about halfway through, so don’t ruin it! I am loving it so far-so much drama! Perfect beach backyard read.
Ok back to the real reason I am so happy today…I have a heaping scoop of this chicken salad for lunch! Yipee! As my husband and I munched on this yesterday afternoon (with tortilla chips-so good!) I thought to myself, “why don’t I make more chicken salad? It is quick, easy, and healthy. Yep, you heard me right, healthy. I know when you think chicken salad you automatically think some super mayo-y mush laden with fat and calories. While this might sound good to some people (Dad, I’m looking at you! ) it’s not exactly the healthiest lunch/snack/dinner.
This version has TONS of flavor and wayyyy fewer calories and almost no fat. How did I do it you ask? Simple. By using the most glorious ingredient on the planet…Greek yogurt. I have often spoke of my love for Greek yogurt, but seriously guy, this stuff is awesome. Not only does it give you all the creamy goodness you want in a chicken salad, but it adds a nice tangy flavor as well. Trust me, if you think you can’t have a tasty and healthy chicken salad, you thought wrong! Oh and don’t worry Dad, I did use a little bit of mayo too! (but only a little!)
Every once in a while you just need a burger. Especially when it is 70+ degrees in early March (there are some serious pros to living in California) and your grill and new patio furniture are just begging for an al fresco evening meal.
When the need strikes, I am there for you! Who says buffalo wings are just for the big game anyway?
This burger has all the flavor of buffalo wings – including the blue cheese dressing! – but in a much easier to eat/much fewer napkin using form. PLUS I’ve lightened it up in a few places without losing any of the flavor. Pretty great right? Continue reading →