Sunday, January 20, 2013

Sunday, Sunday!

This morning Mike and I decided to play hooky from church and to take Nate and Rachael out for breakfast instead.  It's not something that we do very often, but for some reason, decided to brave the sub-zero weather and go to Cheap Charlie's for breakfast.  We had grand plans to do grocery shopping and get some errands run while we were out, except we forgot the list so that had to wait.

Cheap Charlie's is one of those hole-in-the-wall, greasy spoon café's that if you weren't a local, you would pass it by as looking sketchy.
The food is good and you get a lot of it!  Rachael ordered a pancake and sausage links.  The pancake was bigger then her plate and she got 4 sausage links.  The rest of us had omelets.  

Anyway, after we were done, we came home to drop off the kids and get the shopping list.  Nathan and Rachael had no desire to go shopping and that was just fine with Mike and I!  

Since Mike has started running three years ago, he likes to subscribe to Runners Magazine.  Ever so often, he'll rip out recipes that look good to him.  Sometimes we'll try them right away and sometimes he'll misplace them and find them later.  He had happened to find a recipe that he had ripped out of the August 2011 magazine and asked that I make it. It was fantastic!  Mike actually commented as we were eating that I should've played with this one.  What??  Played with it?  Then he explained that I should've taken pictures as I was making it because it was too good not to share.  Gee.. Glad he appreciates my efforts!

So, unfortunately, I did not "play with it" while I was cooking.  I did, however, take a picture of it.  I even dirtied another bowl to make it pretty!  I'm such a girl!

So, here it is:

Not only is it pretty, it is pretty healthy!  The recipe comes from Runners Magazine, August 2011 and credited to chef, Rocco DiSpirito.

Tortilla Soup with Avocado
serves 4

1 1/2 corn tortillas
2/3 cup low-fat, low-sodium chicken broth (I just used the whole can)
1 cup canned, diced fire-roasted tomatoes (again, I used the whole can)
2 chipotle chiles in abodo sauce, chopped fine
2/3 cup store-bought hot fresh salsa (I used medium, jarred salsa because it was what I had)
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 cup cooked skinless chicken breast, shredded
salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
1/3 ripe Haas avocado (but only Mike and I like avocado so it wasn't divided equally)
1/3 cup chopped cilantro (and I just realized I forgot to use this.. Oops!)

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.  Cut the tortillas into 1/4-inch-wide strips.  Place in a single layer on the baking sheet; bake until golden and crisp, about nine minutes.  Combine the chicken broth, tomatoes, chiles, salsa, and corn in a medium saucepan.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Turn the heat to medium-low and simmer for 8 minutes.  Shred the chicken and stir into the soup.  Season with salt and pepper.  Chill in the refrigerator if serving cold (we did not, too cold outside for cold soup!) Ladle the soup into four bowls.  Top each with avocado, cilantro, and tortilla strips.


Saturday, January 12, 2013

Birthday Season has Begun!

So I know it's been entirely too long since my last post about anything and that's been weighing a little heavy on my mind.  Been thinking that I should maybe do an update.

Christmas is over, the New Year has begun.  It's the holiday drought now until Easter, right?  Or at least Valentine's Day.  Yeah, no.  Not at the Peterson house!  Birthday Season has officially begun.  Nathan's birthday is today.  He's 15 years old.  15 years old???? How in the world did that happen?  I remember driving to the hospital dark and early that very cold, blustery morning 15 years ago excited, knowing that within a few hours, I'd be holding my brand new, sweet, little baby.  Now he's an ornery teenager! Love him, though, and wouldn't trade him for all the tea in China.

Starting today and ending on February 13, we have four out of the five Petersons will celebrate a birthday.  Birthday Season has begun.

So... in honor of Nate's birthday (and because he has requested it, because it's his absolute FAVORITE soup!) I have made Chicken Wild Rice soup.  It's one of those super-secret family recipes, but I don't think my mom will mind me sharing it (Thanks, Mom!) I was blessed with a fantastic cook of a mother growing up and this one was a favorite of mine as a kid.

So here is the cast of characters.
 I forgot to add the chicken broth and onions in the original picture and I ended up doubling it so there will be left-overs.  This is a soup that freezes wonderfully.  Just know that when you're looking at the pictures, it's the doubled amount.  I'll post the original recipe at the end.

Cook the chicken.  I usually boil it, but if you have some left-over chicken, you can use that.  I've never used canned chicken, but I suppose that would work, too. Cube it up and set it aside to add as you're putting the soup together.

I don't buy the canned wild rice.  You could and use extra water in the soup, but the rice "broth" adds such a nice flavor that it's worth the extra work.  Do it.  Trust me, it's worth it!

Rinse the wild rice and heat up a tablespoon of oil in a frypan and add the rice.  You're going to want to keep an eye on it.  You want to sauté the rice until it starts to "pop".  Wild rice has such a tough outer husk that you want to pop it so that it can absorb liquid.  It should go from looking like this:
To looking like this:
And here's a close-up.  Isn't it pretty?
When the rice is done popping, put it in a sauce pan with 4 cups of water.  Bring it to a boil and let it simmer for about 30 minutes.  You don't want to cook it all the way, but you want to let it absorb quite a bit of the water.  Add about a teaspoon or so of salt to the water for flavor.
While the rice is simmering, peel the carrots and slice the carrots and celery into thin slices.  Dice up the onion.
Melt the butter in a stockpot (I did it in a bigger frypan because I put the soup in a crockpot) and add the veggies.  While the vegetables are sautéing, heat up the chicken broth. When the onions are translucent, slowly add 1/2 cup of flour and stir into the vegetable mixture to create a roux mixture and let it cook for about 5 minutes to cook out the flour taste.   Slowly add in the hot chicken broth and the reserved rice water  and allow the mixture to thicken slightly.

After the soup has thickened, add the 1/2 & 1/2 (I used half 1/2 & 1/2 and half skim milk, if you're feeling really decadent go ahead and go all out with the 1/2 & 1/2!). Blend well and add rice, chicken, rosemary and salt/pepper to taste.  Simmer another 20 minutes.  

When it's done, it is thick and chunky and full of all sorts of rib-sticking goodness!  We usually have it with some fresh bread.  Carbs galore!
We also get to have it with birthday cake tonight... Yum!  Birthday cake AND ice cream.  I mean.. what's a birthday without cake?
Yea cake!  And happy birthday to my 15-year-old.  You're the greatest, Nate!
This was taken at Christmas and those are NOT my dogs!  Two belong to my mom and dad and the other two to my sister.  We were surrounded by little white fluff balls at Christmas, but it was a great picture taken by my sister. Probably my current favorite of Nate!  Happy Birthday!

Shoot.. realized that I forgot to add the recipe at the end of the post!  Here it is:

Mom's Creamy Chicken Wild Rice Soup
3/4 C. uncooked wild rice
1 T. vegetable oil
4 C. water
1 t. salt
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, sliced
1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
1/2 C. butter
1/2 C. flour
3 C. chicken broth
2 C. half & half
3/4-1 C. diced chicken
1/8 t. rosemary
salt and pepper to taste

Rinse rice and sauté in the vegetable oil until it starts to "pop".  Add rice to a saucepan with water and salt and simmer until nearly done, about 30 minutes.  Reserve 1 1/2 C. of the rice liquid.  

In large kettle, melt butter and sauté onion, celery and carrot until the onion is translucent.  Reduce heat.  Thoroughly, blend in flour and cook for 5 minutes, stirring often.  With wire whisk, blend in hot chicken broth and rice liquid.  Allow to thicken slightly.  Add half & half, blending well.  Add rice, chicken, salt, pepper, and rosemary and simmer another 20 minutes.  

This freezes well and makes amazing left-overs!