Chickpea and Swiss Chard Soup

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

This winter, Randy and I had what we called “Downton Abbey Dinner Date”.  We would record DA and I would cook a soup which we would have while we watched the latest installment, usually Wednesday evenings.  It was a lot of fun and  great to have warming soups during our coldest months. While I made a few standbys, I tried some new recipes including this one. Margaux had pinned this recipe a while back and while searching for something to cook it caught my eye. I thought it looked really good and that it would be a really quick weeknight meal. We made a number of adaptations to up the deliciousness, but still keeping fast and easy in mind.  How quickly you can make this is determined by how much you cook from scratch (chickpeas, e.g.) or how much you use canned/frozen ingredients.

Margaux says . . .

I don’t remember pinning this recipe, but I’m really glad Aunt Suzy brought it to my attention! I just made it last night and it was a hit with the whole family. My son loved that it was spicy, too…he’s very proud that he has a taste for spicy food. If you have someone in your family that is sensitive to spicy things, I would cut the red pepper flakes back to 1/4 tsp. I used fresh chard because I couldn’t find frozen in my grocery store, but I think using frozen is a great idea as a time saver, and I’ll be keeping my eyes out for frozen for the next time I make this.

Ingredients

5 1/2-6 cups cooked chickpeas (four 14-oz cans or 2 cups dried, cooked)

6-7 cups chicken stock, homemade or boxed (or Better than Bouillon no chicken broth for vegetarian)

3 tablespoons EV olive oil

1 onion, diced

1 carrot, small dice

1 celery rib, small dice

Swiss chard stems, diced (optional)

1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary

4 cloves of garlic, minced

1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes with juice

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

Bay leaf

Small Parmesan rind, optional

1 bunch Swiss chard, stems removed and  leaves cut into 1-inch pieces or 1-2 bags frozen chopped Swiss chard (see above note about stems)

Salt & pepper

Cooked small pasta – elbows, fusilli or shells, optional (we like whole wheat shells)

Directions

If using dried chickpeas, cook according to directions. 2 cups dried will produce the amount  of cooked called for in this recipe. If using canned, drain and rinse.

Combine 1 1/2 cups cooked chickpeas and 1 cup chicken stock. Using a hand or regular blender, process until the texture is like oatmeal. Set aside.

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Heat the olive oil in a Dutch oven or soup pot. Add the onion, carrot, celery, chard stems, if using, and rosemary. Saute over medium heat for 5 or so minutes until softened. Add the garlic and cook until fragrant, 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes and their juices and the pepper flakes. Stir for a couple of minutes. Add the pureed chickpea mixture, the remaining chicken stock, cooked chickpeas, bay leaf and the Parmesan rind, if using.  The amount of stock you will use depends on whether you like your soups on the thick or thin side. Bring to a boil, turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Add the Swiss chard and cook for another 10-15 minutes until cooked but not mushy. Remove the Parmesan rind and bay leaves before serving.

Meanwhile, cook the pasta according to directions until al dente.

To serve, place a little pasta in the bottom of the soup bowls and ladle the soup into the bowl. Serve with baguette if desired.

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Italian Chicken Casserole

February 28, 2015

Italian Chicken Casserole

Margaux says…

Back in the relaxing days of only having one small child, I used to watch a lot of daytime TV. My son would only nap for long stretches when he was laying on me…if I tried to lay him down in his own bed, on our bed, or on the couch, he would wake up within 10 minutes. And then would be crabby for the rest of the day. Luckily he was my first born, and got lots of snuggles on the couch, every day, for the first 2.5 years of his life. It got frustrating: dirty dishes would sit in the sink, phone calls would go unanswered, laundry would sit in the dryer, dinner would go un-prepped. I had no smartphone, so no emails, Facebook, or Words with Friends. So, I watched A LOT of television. And after I had marathoned Doctor Who, Firefly and Veronica Mars on Netflix (thank goodness we had Netflix), I turned to daytime TV. And a whole bunch of Food Network. And I’m actually glad for it, because I learned a bunch of really great cooking tips from Ina, and quick meal ideas from Rachel and Giada. This was one of them, and I make it on a pretty regular basis. I remember it was on an episode when Giada was cooking with a child, so it’s meant to be a good recipe for a kid to help with. Which is true, my son has helped me make it many times. It can be prepared in about 30 minutes. A great weeknight meal!

Italian Chicken Casserole

 

Italian Chicken Casserole

This makes enough for 4 people, in an 8×8″ glass baking dish. I like to double the recipe and bake in a 13×9″ dish so we have plenty of leftovers.

1 cup pastina pasta (or any small pasta)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup cubed chicken breast (1-inch cubes)
1/2 cup diced onion (about 1/2 a small onion)
1 clove garlic, minced
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with juice
1 cup shredded mozzarella
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 cup bread crumbs
1/4 cup grated Parmesan

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Bring a medium pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender, stirring occasionally, about 5 minutes. Drain pasta into a large mixing bowl.

Meanwhile, put the olive oil in a medium saute pan over medium heat. Add the chicken and cook for 3 minutes. Add the onions and garlic, stirring to combine, and cook until the onions are soft and the chicken is cooked through, about 5 minutes more.Put the chicken mixture into the bowl with the cooked pasta. Add the canned tomatoes, mozzarella cheese, parsley, salt, and pepper. Stir to combine. Place the mixture in a buttered 8 by 8 by 2-inch baking dish. In a small bowl mix together the bread crumbs and the Parmesan cheese. Sprinkle over the top of the pasta mixture. Dot the top with small bits of butter. Bake until the top is golden brown, about 30 minutes.

Note: This can also be made with already cooked chicken. Just saute the onion and garlic on their own, and add the chicken to the bowl with everything and toss.

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

Margaux says…

I love making frittatas for dinner in the summer.  It’s a great way to use up random produce sitting in the fridge, it’s quick and easy, and it is best served at room temperature, which is great in summer.  I got the idea for this one from Skinnytaste.com, except this isn’t the skinny version.

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

We don’t have tons of tomatoes and zucchinis like some people, because we unfortunately don’t have a garden.  But I know that when you do grow those things, they are plentiful, so this is a great way to use it up.  And the Asiago adds so much delicious flavor to this dish!

Zucchini and Tomato Frittata

1 tbsp olive oil

1/2 large onion, diced

2 medium zucchinis, cut into matchsticks

8 large eggs

3/4 cup shredded Asiago cheese

1/4 cup chopped basil

salt and pepper

2 small garden tomatoes, sliced thinly

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Whisk together eggs with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper and Asiago cheese.  Set aside.

Heat olive oil in a 10″ non-stick pan or cast iron skillet over medium heat.  Add onion, and saute until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add zucchini and turn up heat to medium-high.  Saute until zucchini is soft, about 2 more minutes.  Add egg mixture and let sit for a minute, then tilt the pan and loosen the edges with a spatula, letting uncooked egg slide underneath.  Cook until the underside is golden but the top is still liquid, about 5 minutes.  Add the tomatoes to the top of the frittata, sprinkle a little salt on them, and transfer to a center rack of the preheated oven.  Bake until the top is set, about 5 minutes.  If the top doesn’t set in that amount of time, turn the broiler on high, move the rack to the top position, and broil until the top sets, about 1-2 minutes.  Don’t overcook!  Remove pan from oven and let cool to warm.  Remove frittata from pan onto a large serving plate, or cut right in the pan and serve.  I like to serve it at room temperature, but it’s also good warm.

Steak and Zucchini Tostadas - Sweet & Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

I bought this recipe magazine on a whim 4 years ago while waiting in line at the supermarket, and it quickly became my most-used recipe book in the summer and fall. Every recipe I have made (and I have used almost all of them) have been fantastic. And they are super quick and easy. So, since I use this blog as my virtual recipe box and menu planner (along with Pinterest, of course), I thought I would post some of my favorites from the magazine, just in case someday it catches on fire from being too close to a burner, or accidentally gets dropped in the dishwater. Plus, you should try out these recipes, too! They’re great for a quick, easy and flavorful weeknight meal.
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I’m starting with the steak and zucchini tostadas. I don’t make these as often because we really don’t eat steak all that much (small business owner budget), but I have made this substituting lentil taco filling for the steak and it is also pretty good. My favorite lentil taco filling recipe is sort of a mash-up of my own taco seasoning and the lentil taco recipe from Budget Bytes.  Actually, I keep the lentil taco filling on hand in the freezer for whenever we have tacos, so I have it ready for my vegetarian son on taco nights.  But I digress….try these tostadas on your next taco night, you won’t be sorry.  Zucchini and steak is a great combo!

Steak and Zucchini Tostadas

adapted from America’s Test Kitchen 30-Minute Suppers, Fall 2010 edition

**To make this even quicker, you can buy already made tostada shells at the grocery store if your store carries them.  Here in Chicago there are a couple of different local brands that make them, and you can find them in the “Mexican” aisle.

12 (6-inch) corn tortillas

4 tbsp vegetable or canola oil

salt and pepper

1 small flank steak (or about 1 lb strip steak…I used that once because it’s what I had on hand)

2 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and sliced thin

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup lightly packed fresh cilantro leaves

1 lime, cut into wedges, for serving

1 recipe pico de gallo, for serving (recipe follows)

1. Adjust oven racks to lower-middle and upper middle positions and heat oven to 450 degrees.  Brush both sides of tortillas with 2 tablespoons oil and season with salt and pepper.  Lay tortillas in single layer on 2 baking sheets.  Bake until golden brown and crisp, rotating baking sheets and flipping tortillas halfway through, about 10 minutes.

2. Meanwhile, pat beef dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat additional 1 tablespoon oil in large skillet over medium high heat until just smoking.  Cook beef until well browned and it registers 125 degrees (for medium-rare), 4 to 6 minutes per side.  Transfer to cutting board and tent with foil.

3. Add remaining oil and zucchini to skillet and cook until tender, about 4 minutes.

4. Cut beef in half lengthwise, then very thinly slice beef crosswise against grain.  Divide beef and zucchini equally among tostadas.  Top with feta and cilantro.  Serve with lime wedges and pico de gallo.

Pico de Gallo

3 cored, seeded and diced plum tomatoes

1/2 red onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

2 jalepenos, seeded and minced (leave more of the seeds for more heat)

juice from 2 limes

1/4 cup chopped cilantro

Combine all ingredients in a small bowl.  Season with salt and pepper.

 

TACO TUESDAY!

March 4, 2014

Tacos - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

We love tacos around here.  Really really love them.  Especially since it’s become my son’s favorite food, and, well, if you have a toddler, you know how important that is.  Since Desi turned 3.5, he went from eating everything we gave him to becoming vegetarian and not eating much of anything at all.  We’ve come a long way from there, and luckily we have a kid that has never disliked vegetables, even through the tough eating times.  But he’s still pretty picky now, and won’t eat much of what I make anymore.  So we have back-ups in our fridge for nights that he won’t eat what I make for the rest of us: veggie dogs, taco and quesadilla fixings, cooked noodles and tomato sauce…you get the idea.  Kid stuff.  In the meantime, we have tacos as a family pretty often.  Almost once a week.  And when we saw The Lego Movie, we thought “Taco Tuesday” sounded pretty awesome.  Because, you know, “EVERYTHING IS AWESOME.”

I’ve been making my own taco seasoning ever since I discovered the recipe in my Joy of Cooking that Aunt Suzy gave me back in 2001.  I never loved the super salty McCormick packets that we always used before, and was super excited in my early cooking years to discover how easy it is to make yourself.  I almost always have taco seasoning stuff on hand, and it takes less time to make the meat and/or beans part of the tacos than it takes to prepare everything else.  Now that we have a vegetarian in the family, I make meat for us and season a can of black beans in almost the same way for him, basing it on this fabulous recipe that we posted about last summer.  I also almost always make homemade guacamole, because Desi decided he only likes avocados in that form anymore (we used to just put chopped up avocados on our tacos).  I use this recipe because it keeps longer and tastes better with all the lime juice in it.  I also make pico de gallo (recipe below) instead of just plain chopped up tomatoes.  It’s better that way, and then we can eat the leftovers the next day on tortilla chips for an after-school snack.  Our other fixings are shredded lettuce, shredded cheese, sour cream, taco sauce (not really needed, if you ask me…but hubby and son love the stuff), and black olives.  I know, it’s weird, but it’s what I grew up putting on my tacos, and one of the reasons Desi loves tacos so much.

We have a few other taco recipes here, because I think Aunt Suzy loves tacos, too.  Maybe not as much as Desi, though.  🙂

Chipotle Chicken Soft Tacos
Fish Tacos with Avocado Slaw and Chipotle Sour Cream
Fish Tacos with Lime Guacamole and Cabbage Slaw
Fish Tacos with Black Bean Salsa
Braised Greens and Onion Tacos

Aunt Suzy says . . . 

YES, we love tacos up here in the Northland also! A few comments:  We often do veggie tacos with seasoned beans, but Randy also makes the taco filling with Tempeh as a substitute for the meat. He breaks it up into small chunks and toasts it in a skillet with a little oil and whole cumin seeds to get it crispy. This helps it keep its shape and texture when added to the sauce with seasonings and onions. We also like diced zucchini and shredded carrot with these traditional style tacos. We often serve doctored up refried beans as a side. So Margaux . . . does your family like soft tortillas or crispy taco shells?  For us, corn is a must – no flour tortillas for these – and we go back and forth on soft or crispy!

Margaux says..

We like soft tacos…corn and flour.  I always buy both, and we all have a couple of each.  I almost never buy hard shells, mainly because I never think of it!  I’m sure Desi would love them.  I’ll have to remember next Tuesday!  🙂

Ground Beef, Chicken or Turkey for Tacos

adapted from Joy of Cooking

2 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 medium red onion, minced
1 lb ground beef, turkey or chicken
1-3 cloves garlic, minced
1 tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
Pinch of anise seeds, slightly crushed
salt to taste
1 cup tomato sauce (one small can)
minced fresh jalapenos, other fresh chili peppers, or chipotle peppers in adobo

1. Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion, and cook, stirring often, about 4-5 minutes.
2. Increase heat to medium-high and add the meat. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 3 minutes.
3. Stir in the garlic, chili powder, cumin, coriander, anise and salt. Cook, stirring, for about 30 seconds, until fully incorporated and fragrant.
4. Add tomato sauce and minced peppers. Cook, stirring occasionally, over low heat for 10 minutes.

Pico de Gallo

Seed and chop 2-3 Roma tomatoes, 1/4 red onion, and cilantro. Seed and mince half an jalepeno. Mix all in a small bowl together, with a squeeze of lime juice.

Chicken Tikka Masala

February 27, 2014

Chicken Tikka Masala - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

Cook’s Illustrated does it again, as usual.  Well, did it in 2007 in the Sept/Oct issue, at least.  I love Indian food, and chicken tikka masala is my favorite.  But when you have two small children, going out for Indian food isn’t an option because fiery hot food isn’t gonna fly.  And my husband and I just don’t get out to dinner alone much anymore.  So the fabulous Indian restaurants that are available to us up on Devon Ave. are just gonna have to wait a few more years.  Luckily we got to frequent them enough in our pre-kid years to hold us over.  Plus, we have this weeknight version of chicken tikka masala to hold us over, too…it is really really good.

You really can make this on a weeknight.  I did, with one kid “helping” and the other snacking happily in her high chair, our usual dinner making time routine.  The sauce can even be made ahead of time, to make it even easier…but really, I say why bother because it’s easy enough to just make it that night.  The sauce is super flavorful, the chicken super tender, and served over basmati rice you have a fantastic meal!

Chicken Tikka Masala

adapted by Cook’s Illustrated

Chicken Tikka

1/2 tsp Ground cumin
1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/4 tsp cayenne
1 tsp table salt
2 lbs boneless, skinless chicken breasts, trimmed of fat
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt (it really tastes best with this, but you can use lowfat if you must!)
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 medium garlic cloves, pressed through garlic press
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger

Masala Sauce

3 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium onion, diced fine (about 1 1/4 cups)
2 garlic cloves, minced or pressed through garlic press
2 tsp grated fresh ginger
1 serrano chile, ribs and seeds removed and minced (unless you want more heat…then leave them in and mince)
1 tbsp tomato paste
1 tbsp garam masala
1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
2 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp table salt
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro

1. For the chicken: Combine cumin, coriander, cayenne and salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle both sides of chicken with spice mixture, pressing gently so mixture adheres. Place chicken on plate, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 30 to 60 minutes. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, oil, garlic and ginger, set aside.
2. For the sauce: Heat oil in a large Dutch oven over medium heat until shimmering. Add onion and cook, stirring frequently, until light golden, 8-10 minutes. Add garlic, ginger, chile, tomato paste, and garam masala; cook, stirring frequently, until fragrant, about 3 minutes. Add crushed tomatoes, sugar, and salt, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in cream and return to simmer. Remove pan from heat and cover to keep warm.
3. While sauce simmers, adjust oven rack to upper-middle position (about 6 inches from heating element) and heat broiler. Using tongs, dip chicken into yogurt mixture (chicken should be coated with thick layer of yogurt) and arrange on wire rack set in foil-lined rimmed baking sheet or broiler pan. Discard excess yogurt mixture. Broil chicken until thickest parts register 160 degrees on instant-read thermometer and exterior is lightly charred in spots, 10-18 minutes, flipping chicken halfway through cooking.
4. Let chicken rest 5 minutes, then cut into 1-inch chunks and stir into warm sauce (do not simmer chicken in sauce). Stir in cilantro, adjust seasoning with salt, and serve.

Caldo Verde - Sweet and Savory Kitchens

Margaux says…

A soup similar to this was posted by a bunch of people on Pinterest recently, which I made and liked a lot. Then Aunt Suzy emailed me this recipe, which was very similar but looked better. Instead of using cream to make it a creamy soup, you puree some of the potatoes, which I like better. I waited a few weeks to try this one out so that we didn’t over do the potato-greens-sausage soup around here, and I’m so glad I got around to making this! It is fantastic…blows the other soup out of the soup pot. Ha! And my husband, Jason, raved about it as well, claiming it to have the “best broth ever.” He’s really good about complimenting my cooking, but this was more emotion than he usually shows about food. So I put this one in the “win” column and will be definitely making it again!

I think that you can switch out different kinds of greens/sausage/potatoes to suit your likes. I made it with spicy Italian sausage because that’s what I had on hand, instead of the chorizo. Next time I’ll make it with the chorizo probably, but the spicy Italian was still good. I prefer Yukon gold potatoes, but russet would be fine, too. And as for the greens, I would stick with tougher, bitter greens like collard, or any type of kale. I don’t think spinach or chard would hold up as well. The main thing that made this soup stand out to me was the process of taking out part of the potatoes and pureeing them to make the broth thick and creamy.

Aunt Suzy says..

As Margaux mentioned, our initial foray into the greens/potato/sausage soup arena was a recipe we saw on Pinterest that we both made exactly according to the recipe, me with chicken and Margaux with pork sausage.  Then my guy Randy shared this recipe with us from Cook’s Illustrated, which we tried shortly thereafter. I’ve made the Pinterest one with regular kale and unpeeled russets and another time with Lacinato kale, unpeeled Yukon Golds and fully cooked Italian sausage from Trader Joe’s. And then I’ve made this recipe exactly as specified.  All are really good, but I think this one is the winner.  Pureeing some of the potatoes with olive oil creates an emulsion that makes for a very silky texture without dairy. Today, I’ve made one of our favorite stewsand Randy asked me if it included sausage – hehe, guess we’ve had enough sausage around here for a while.

Caldo Verde
adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Ingredients

¼ cup EV olive oil

12 ounces Spanish-style chorizo sausage, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (fully cooked, not fresh Mexican)

1 medium onion, chopped fine

4 garlic cloves, minced

Salt and pepper

¼ teaspoon red pepper flakes, or more to taste

2 pounds Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 3/4-inch pieces

4 cups chicken stock or broth

4 cups water

1 pound collard greens, stemmed and cut into 1-inch pieces

2 teaspoons white wine vinegar, optional

Directions

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until shimmering. Add chorizo and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer chorizo to bowl and set aside. Reduce heat to medium and add onion. Cook for a few minutes till translucent. Add the garlic, 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, pepper flakes and black pepper to taste. Cook, stirring frequently, another 3 minutes. Add potatoes, broth, and water; increase heat to high and bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer, uncovered, until potatoes are just tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

Remove 3/4 cup solids and 3/4 cup broth to a bowl or measuring cup.  Set aside. Add collard greens to pot and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in chorizo and continue to simmer until greens are tender, 8 to 10 minutes longer.

Add 2-3 tablespoons olive oil to solids/broth mixture that was set aside. Place in blender jar (or use immersion blender) and process until very smooth and emulsified, about 1 minute. Remove pot from heat and stir pureed soup mixture and vinegar, if using, into soup. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and serve. (Soup can be refrigerated for up to 2 days.)

Cook’s Notes: If you live near a Whole Foods, Amylu Chicken Chorizo in a 9-ounce package works really well with this and the 9-ounces seemed like enough.  You can try with or without the vinegar. AS didn’t use it and Margaux did.