Saturday, March 21, 2020

Southwest Chicken and Vegetable Soup

I love creating soup from what's in my cabinets and fridge and during this unsettling time in history,  soup is one of the ultimate comfort foods. Throwing some veggies and chicken into a pot and transforming them into a filling and tasty meal is good for the soul.

The first thing I did, was to look into the refrigerator vegetable drawer and see what was available. There were carrots, a jalapeno, 1/2 of an onion, 1/2 of a red bell pepper and a bunch of some sorry looking scallions.  Those items were cleaned, chopped and joined by 3 cloves of garlic.

I grabbed a package of boneless, skinless chicken breasts and let them thaw for about an hour. Using a sharp knife, I cut them into bite sized pieces, drizzled a little olive oil over them and added 1 tablespoon of  Penzey's Chili 9000. I tossed that together, placed it on a foil lined baking sheet, placed it into a 375 degree oven and roasted for 20 minutes.

In the meantime, I sauteed the vegetables in olive oil with some of the Penzey's Chili 9000. The spice added a Middle Eastern touch to the soup. I also added some Savory Spice Pasilla Negro Chile Powder for a little more heat. I had some Masa in my baking cabinet, so I added it as a thickener. If you don't have Masa, you can leave it out.

This recipe, like most of mine, is meant as a path to create a meal with what is available in your home. Here are links for the spices I used:

Southwest Chicken and Vegetable Soup

2 to 3 cups cooked, chopped chicken
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 cup chopped white onion
1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper
4 large carrots, sliced
6 scallions, sliced
1 jalapeno, seeded and chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
2 Tbsp Penzey's Chili 9000
1 Tbsp. Savory Spice Pasilla Negro Chile Poweder
4 cups chicken stock
2 Tbsp. Masa (optional)
1 can chopped green beans, drained
1 cup frozen vegetable mix, thawed (my blend had corn and black beans)

Saute the vegetables and spices in olive oil until softened. Add chicken stock, cooked chicken and Masa, bring to a boil and reduce heat, simmer for 1 hour.
Add green beans and thawed frozen vegetables, heat through and serve.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Gluten Free Instant Pot Lasagna Soup

When I first heard about this soup, I was a bit skeptical. I grew up eating my mother's specialty, which was her amazing lasagna. So the thought of a soup tasting like lasagna seemed a long shot to me. Plus, using gluten free pasta in soups can be a bit tricky since they tend to dissolve.  I was shocked that the pasta turned out perfect and it held up when reheated the next night.  This recipe lives up to the name and the flavor is like eating lasagna in a soup.

Gluten Free Instant Pot Lasagna Soup 

1 lb. Italian Sausage
1 can chicken stock
1 15oz  can fire roasted crushed tomatoes
1 15 oz can tomato sauce
1 small onion, diced
2 large carrots diced
2 bay leaves
1 bag kale
2 teaspoons Italian Seasoning, plus more for cheese mixture
1 cup gluten free  pasta
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
6 ounces part skim ricotta cheese
1/3 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

Mix the ricotta and Parmesan and season with a little dash of salt and pepper and a 1/2 tsp of Italian seasoning ; set aside.
Add olive oil to pot and set to saute setting.
After the pot preheats for a minute or two, add the sausage and cook until brown, using a wooden spoon to break apart (about 5 minutes).
Add onions, carrots and bay leaves and continue cooking until veggies are soft, about another 5 minutes.
Add garlic and Italian seasoning and cook a minute more.
Add chicken stock, diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, basil, oregano, kale and pasta.
Place the lid on (with silicone ring) and set it to manual for 2 minutes on high pressure. (It will take 10 to 15 minutes to come to pressure. )
Allow the soup to naturally release for 5 minutes and then use quick release to remove  remaining pressure.
Remove the bay leaves.
Serve immediately and garnish with Parmesan and ricotta cheese mixture, sprinkle with mozzarella.

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Gluten Free Blondies with Nutella and Peanut Butter Chips

I've always loved to cook, but baking was always a little more of a challenge.  When you cook, you can create something from nothing without a lot of rules. When you bake, science takes the lead and you have to follow that lead in order to turn out an edible and appetizing creation.
Things like brownies and blondies give you a little more wiggle room and endless possibilities.
Now a days, I bake with gluten free flour and it can sometimes be challenging.  Brownies and such seem to be the easiest to make. I use Red Mill 1 to 1 Baking Flour and always seem to have good results. This is a simple recipe and the blondies turn out really well.

Gluten Free Blondies with Nutella and Peanut Butter

1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), melted
2 large eggs
2 cups light brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups  gluten free 1 to 1 baking flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
13-ounce jar Nutella
1 cup peanut butter chips

1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line the bottom of an 8-by-8-inch non-stick baking pan with parchment paper; set aside.

2. In a large, microwave-safe bowl add the butter and heat to melt, about 1 minute on high power.

3. Add the  brown sugar and vanilla, whisk until smooth. Then slowly add eggs, whisking.

4. Add the flour, salt, and stir until just combined, don’t overmix.

5. Turn half the batter out into prepared pan; set remaining batter aside.

6. Microwave the jar of Nutella, careful to peel away the foil seal, for about 15 seconds.

7. Turn Nutella out into the pan and spread into an even, smooth layer.

8. Turn remaining batter out over the Nutella. Add heaping rounded tablespoon-sized blobs using  a spatula to smooth them together.

9. Evenly top with peanut butter chips.

10. Bake for 30 minutes, or until top is set and golden; don’t overbake as they taste best when they’re slightly underbaked. A toothpick test is unreliable because you will hit melted Nutella. It will firm up as it cools. Place pan on a wire rack to cool for at least 90 minutes. Turn out onto a baking sheet, peel off parchment and flip over to slice.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Instant Pot Pork Chops w/ Green Beans and Potatoes

The inspiration for this recipe came from a conversation with a woman I work with and I needed to get it into my Instant Pot . When she talked about the green beans that she cooked in her pot , my mouth started watering and lightbulbs started blinking in my head. Growing up with the world's best cook, Janis Tosatto, this was a staple at our dinner table. I decided that I would try my rendition this week and it turned out perfectly .
This recipe will feed 2 people, with a few beans and potatoes leftover for lunch tomorrow. The seasoning I used on the pork and the vegetables is Red Rocks Hickory Smoke Seasoning from Savory Spice and is my go to for most everything. The beans and potatoes brought back such great childhood memories and the pork was tender and cooked through.

Instant Pot Pork Chops w/ Green Beans and Potatoes

2 10 oz Bone-in Pork Chops
2 tbsp olive oil
1/2 sweet onion, sliced
2 cups chicken stock
14 oz green beans, broken in half
12 oz baking potato, peeled and cubed
3 garlic cloves, sliced
Salt and pepper (or seasoning of preference)

Hit the saute button and when it says hot, add olive oil. Brown chops on each side, 3 to 4 minutes and remove to plate.
Add onion, saute until soft.
Add stock, stirring to deglaze pot.
Turn off. Add beans, potatoes and garlic and more seasoning. Stir together.
Place chops on top of vegetables.
Making sure that the silicone ring is in
place, lock lid into place and close pressure valve.
Set on manual for 5 minutes at high pressure. My pot came to pressure within 12 minutes.
NPR for 10 minutes and release (with caution) remaining pressure.

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Gluten Free Apple Cake

This is a fairly easy recipe that comes together pretty fast once you have the apples peeled and cored. Preparing the apples is a kind of therapy for me, kind of like any other mundane food prep. Turn on your favorite music, sing a little and sneak a couple of dance moves in while no one is watching. Life doesn't get much better than that, until you see the finished product, give it a taste and share it with others. This cake turns out beautifully, with a nice crunchy top and not overly sweet flavor. Like most gluten free baked goods, it's best eaten in the first couple of days and I recommend placing the uneaten portion in the refrigerator.
Gluten Free Apple Cake
1½ pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and cut into 8 wedges, and sliced ⅛ inch thick crosswise
1 tablespoon Orange liqueur
1 teaspoon lemon juice
¾ cup, plus 2 tablespoons 1 to 1 gluten-free baking flour
¼ cup almond flour
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon salt
1 large egg plus 2 large yolks
1 cup canola oil
1 cup  buttermilk
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 tablespoons vanilla sugar
Place the oven rack in the lower third of the oven and set the temperature to 325 degrees. Spray a 9-inch springform pan with gluten-free cooking spray and place on a foil lined, rimmed baking sheet. (If you don't, you'll end up with a bit of a mess on the oven bottom)
Place apple slices on a microwave safe plate or pie dish, cover and microwave on high for 3 minutes, or until apples are slightly tender and pliable. Drizzle with orange liqueur and lemon juice and let cool for 15 minutes.
Place ¾ cup of gluten-free flour blend, almond flour, 1 cup of sugar, baking powder and salt in a large mixing bowl. Whisk to combine. Add one egg, oil, milk and vanilla extract and whisk until smooth. Scoop out one cup of the batter and place in another medium bowl.
Add egg yolks to the larger portion of the batter and whisk to combine. Fold in the cooled apple slices and pour mixture into the prepared pan, smoothing the top with a rubber spatula.
Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons of gluten-free flour blend into the remaining batter and smooth batter as evenly over the apple mixture in the pan as possible, taking care to spread it all the way to the edges.
Sprinkle the top with the 2 tablespoons of vanilla sugar and bake until the center of the cake is set, about 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Transfer pan to a wire rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Run a  plastic knife around the edge of the cake along the sides of the pan and let cool completely, about 2 hours more. Cut into wedges and serve with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Seattle Cider Basil Mint Hard Cider

I'm always excited when I stumble upon a new hard cider and was happy to come across this one. The name sounded great, Seattle Cider Basil Mint Hard Cider, especially since I love basil and mint together and thought the flavors would pair well with apple. Unfortunately, I didn't seem to taste either named ingredient and found the cider to be just a little bit on the funky side. The aroma was not enticing and the flavor was a bit flat. This was a miss for me and I would not purchase again. Seattle Cider makes others that are much better, so I will stick to those.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Gluten Free Instant Pot Lasagna

If you haven't joined the Instant Pot bandwagon, it's time to hop aboard. Not every recipe is a time saver, but you can do so much with it. I've prepared many lasagnas over the years and this is now my favorite way. When you are cooking for two, you get two good meals and less headache and clean up. I admit that I was skeptical about this technique, but I have embraced it. Taking the sides off of the spring-form pan was scary the first time, but the end result is a beautiful layered, baked pasta dish. I have tried different combinations for this recipe and I have landed on all sausage. The first time I used all ground beef, but felt that it lacked texture and flavor. The next two times I went with a half ground sirloin, half Italian sausage blend and was satisfied with the flavor and texture. This last recipe, I went with all Italian sausage and decided it was the winner.
In the past, I have always made my own sauce, but to save time I went with a jarred sauce. Going with a pricier jar was the logical choice for me, knowing that it would come closer to homemade. I found this Michael's of Brooklyn Home Style Gravy at Sprouts and it comes pretty close to home made.

Gluten Free Instant Pot Lasagna 

  • 1 lb bulk  gluten free Italian sausage
  • 8 oz ricotta cheese
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese - divided in half
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1 egg
  • 1 tbsp. Italian spices
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Gluten free lasagna noodles
  • 1 jar gluten free pasta sauce
  1. Using Saute function, brown Italian sausage, breaking up the clump. Remove to plate lined with paper towel to drain.
  2. Mix ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup mozzarella cheese, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 egg, and spices.
  3. Line bottom of 7" spring form pan with lasagna noodles, broken into pieces to fit the pan.
  4. Add enough pasta sauce to cover the noodles.
  5. Add layer of half of meat mixture.
  6. Add layer of half of cheese mixture.
  7. Repeat with another layer of noodles, tomato sauce, ground beef, and cheese.
  8. Top with layer of noodles, and additional tomato sauce.
  9. Add remaining mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses.
  10. Place trivet in Instant Pot insert, and add 1.5 cups water.
  11. Loosely cover pan of lasagna with foil to keep out water.
  12. Place lasagna pan on top of trivet in pot.
  13. Lock lid on pot, and set valve to seal. (make sure to insert the silicone ring)
  14. Press manual, 20 minutes high pressure.
  15. When finished cooking, allow to naturally release (NR) pressure - approximately 10 minutes.
  16. Remove lasagna after pressure releases. Broil on high for a few minutes to brown cheese, watching so that you don't burn the top.
  17. Let rest for a about 5 minutes, run a knife along edge to release and remove ring.
  18. Slice and serve with additional sauce.