Thursday, December 11, 2014

Magical Turkey Orzo Soup

Happiness is when you walk in the door and it smells like what your grandmother's house smelled like ...

This morning I posted about last night's dinner ... sorry it was a late night!  I had a nice piece of leftover turkey breast that I knew was going into a soup.  Didn't know what else was going in, but it was the basic chicken noodle standard with some added new flavors.

I don't know if it's because we have actually been using the dining room (bc the kitchen is so full of stuff lateley), or the mood everyone was in, but I felt like my day synced up nicely over a simple bowl of soup and warm bread.

If you or anyone in your family has been fighting an illness (as there are many with flu-like symptoms and coughs going around), there's nothing like a good bowl of chicken soup.  It's a nutrient dense easy to digest food and liquid that can help your immune system.  Try to use the best ingredients like organic celery (as it's one of the worst offenders of pesticides), organic free-range chicken or turkey (most chickens from the grocery store are grown at lightning speed to fatten them up and fed corn and antibiotics which of course get into our systems that make it difficult to fight infection on our own).

Not too much work goes into making soup ... the waiting for all the flavors to come together isn't terribly long, but the longer it cooks, the better it tastes. 

Magical Turkey Orzo Soup

Ingredients:
2 (32 ounce) boxes of chicken stock
1 cup of chopped onion (or more to taste)
1 cup of chopped celery
1 cup of diced carrots
olive oil to coat pot
2 cups or so of cooked turkey (or chicken), chopped into bite sized pieces
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
grated fresh ginger
juice from 1 lemon
1 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried parsley
a pinch of Old Bay seasoning
1 cup frozen organic corn
1 tablespoon flavored vinegar (I used an orange champagne variety but red wine is good too)
cooked orzo (cook separately and add to pot when ready to eat)
fresh sprig of rosemary chopped
fresh sprigs of parsley torn up

Directions:
  1. Heat olive oil in a soup pot.  Add onions, carrots, and celery.  Cook until tender.
  2. Add chicken stock/broth.  Combine well and heat through.
  3. Add turkey
  4. Season with the following:  salt, pepper, ginger (I don't measure, I just use a grater and count till at least 20!), lemon juice, thyme, parsley, Old Bay.  Simmer on low for about 20 minutes.
  5. Add frozen corn.  Cook until tender.
  6. Add vinegar along with orzo, fresh rosemary and parsely.  Heat thoroughly and let flavors blend.
That's it!  I generally don't measure so use your judgement in the seasonings.  You can always add spices, you cannot take away!  I absolutely love the vinegar at the end of cooking process.  It gives it a fantastic pop of flavor with less salt needed to finish.

Hope your next dinner is magical!
Enjoy,
Krista


Throwback Thursday with Santa from Pequannock Co 1 Firehouse

So miss these visits!!!

Roasted Lemon Broccoli

"More Broccoli Please!"

Have you ever heard that one?  Not too often here either!

I am not a huge lover of broccoli unless it's stir-fried but I needed to get some other veggie on the table the other night, so I threw some ingredients together, fired up the oven and threw them in.

I'm not kidding when I tell you I OFTEN burn meals.

I forget I have food in the oven because I forget to set a timer.  Distracted multi-tasker.  But this time it worked out.  Although the broccoli wasn't burnt, it was awesome as a crunchy roasted lemony side.

So set the oven to 425 degrees.  Get out a cookie sheet or roasting pan.

Roasted Lemon Broccoli

1 head of broccoli flowerets
1-2 lemons
olive oil
salt
pepper
dusting of Parmesan cheese (optional)

  1. Chop up the broccoli into bite sized pieces.
  2. Juice the lemons into a small bowl.  Add enough olive oil to match the amount of lemon juice (or more olive oil depending on your tastes).   Add a good sprinkling of salt and pepper.
  3. Place broccoli on roasting pan.  Pour mixture over it.  Mix well making sure broccoli is coated.
  4. Place in oven.  Check at 10 minutes.  Turn.  Check again in 10 minutes.  Let it crisp up and take out.
  5. Toss with Parmesan cheese (optional).
I actually served this the other night with the raspberry chicken.  I didn't post last night because I had no recipe to share! I had a turkey breast that I seasoned with salt and pepper, brushed olive oil over it, covered with foil and hoped for the best when I put it in the oven at 425 degrees.  The oven was that hot because I had to throw in a frozen pizza for an early pre-swim snack.  It's hard to have dinner ready at 4:00!  They get on the bus at 4:10 and don't get home till 8:30!  The turkey was great and now I have leftovers for soup today.  All is well!

My other green obsession!  


Enjoy!
Krista






Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Chicken Chili

Chasing the cold chill away with a hot bowl of chili works for me!

This is not my usual full of veggie style chili.  I just needed to get this done fast and I was curious to see if my kids ate more as I left out the peppers and beans.  All the rest of it stayed the same so I was surprised they didn't cheer when I told them no beans, no peppers.  Maybe they do like those!!

I used a ground chicken for this one ... have never used that before but when I find organic meat that is not the usual chicken breast, whole chicken, or beef, I grab it.  It worked out great, but of course, you can use beef or turkey to make this chili.

Chicken Chili

8 servings (1 1/3 cups each)


Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 lb ground chicken
1 cup chopped onion
2 garlic cloves
1 Tablespoon chili powder (or more to taste)
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1 Tablespoon ground cumin
3 Tablespoons tomato paste
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 bay leaves
1 1/4 cups of Merlot or other red wine
2 28 oz cans of whole tomatoes (I blended up one can to smooth it out)
1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

*Feel free to add more garlic, a jalapeno pepper, kidney beans and 1 cup of chopped green pepper.

Directions:
  1. Heat a large soup pot over medium high heat.  Add onions.  Cook until tender.  Add ground chicken and cook until browned, stirring to crumble.  
  2. Add chili powder and the next 7 ingredients, and cook for one minute, stirring constantly.  Stir in wine, tomatoes, and kidney beans; bring to a boil.  Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 hour, stirring occasionally.  Uncover and cook for 30 minutes or until desired consistency.  Discard the bay leaves.
  3. Sprinkle with cheese and add a dollop of sour cream if desired.
Serve with a nice green salad!

If you're in the Northeast this week, you will get wet!  It's either raining or snowing and that can make some people cranky!  Lucky for me, my animals keep me laughing and busy as I'm often referee in the morning between the three of them ;)

Sleeping off his tough day 

Stay warm and happy!
Krista




Monday, December 8, 2014

Raspberry Chicken

Happy Monday night!
Made this last night as one of those repeat meals!  Because it's easy and I had the ingredients ... simple.  I've listed this before but it's worth another post.  The sauce is really nice and I think it would match up nicely with a white fish if you're able to swing that with your family!

Carmelized Onion Chicken

(serves 4)

1 lb of chicken tenders
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. freshly ground pepper
1 t. olive oil
1/2 cup sliced onion
1/2 cup raspberry jam
1 T. red wine vinegar
1 T. low sodium soy sauce
1 t. minced ginger  (I use a micro-plane to grate it when frozen)
1/2 t. dried rosemary
fresh rosemary to garnish

Directions:
1.  Sprinkle chicken with salt and pepper.  Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.  Add onion, and saute for 2 minutes.  Add chicken to the pan, saute 8 minutes or until chicken is done.  Remove onion and chicken from pan.
2.  Add jam and remaining ingredients to pan; cook 2 minutes, stirring constantly with a whisk.  Return chicken to pan; cook 4 minutes stirring occasionally.

Yield:  each serving size is 3 ounces of chicken and 1 T. sauce.  I usually double it and it all goes with just enough for my lunch the next day. Today I put the chicken in a wrap with scooped out sweet potato left over from dinner and topped it off with some cranberry sauce for lunch.  So good!

Have to mention the upcoming holiday frenzy ... I'm so far behind.

No tree, no presents, just started a list today.

Not the happiest feeling when you feel so slow compared to the friends who have already sent their cards, have their tree lit, house done, and even cookies baked!  But I have to say, this weekend I was in Virginia visiting my alma mater with Hannah for a soccer camp.  We somehow managed to time it so that we stumbled upon the town's Christmas parade.  It was exactly what we needed to feel the Christmas spirit.  To hear little voices sing out "Merry Christmas" as they went by on their floats was so sweet.  It was simple.  Happy.  Made my heart melt as I remembered when my kids were that little.  I wish we could turn back the hands of time, but it made me appreciate the holiday for what it is today.



Harrisonburg, Virginia

Stay sane everyone!  Don't let your list of to-do's make you forget about the simple joys!
Krista

Green Season

Easy Greens

People look at green drinks with bewilderment.  They just look strange if you're not used to them.  I love getting in 2 big handfuls of spinach in the morning! Keeps me on track for the rest of the day.  

My usual green drink is easy to make and doesn't taste as it looks.  However, yesterday morning I added two drops of an orange essential oil that made me really happy!  It was like a summer creamsicle in my blender! 

Here you go:

Green Creamsicle

1 cup coconut water
2 handfuls of baby spinach
1 tablespoon chia seeds
1 scoop vanilla protein powder
1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt
1 banana
5 icecubes
1-2 drops of orange essential oil

Put into blender.
Blend until smooth.
Enjoy!

If you need any vanilla or chocolate protein powder, I have some extra as I over-ordered!  Message me if you're interested.  Also, if you need some essential orange oil, let me know.  It is not an expensive investment to make this drink for yourself in this stressful month.  Keeps you running without caffeine!  Don't get me wrong, my coffee is part of my routine too!

 Protein packed Green Creamsicle

Enjoy,
Krista

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Penne with Vodka Sauce

Pasta Night

I know a lot of you already have a recipe for this, so if you want to pass yours along to the rest of us, please do!  I never make this but thought we needed something quick and easy tonight as the Cowboys are playing at 8:25 pm.  That means my dear husband, who unfortunately is a Cowboys fan (lol!), will be bringing out his winter beers and setting up in the family room.  I'd like to be out of the kitchen/family room to escape his loud clapping!!! 

Ok, I digress but since starting this week's recipe blog, I have felt a bit more organized, but the December schedule is really busy on all fronts.  Everyone is being pulled in all directions so at least if we have a meal to eat together, it helps us connect.  Most of the time the humor is sarcastic from the kids, but we have a good laugh and all is well.

Penne with Vodka Sauce

16 ounces uncooked penne pasta
2 tablespoons of butter
1 1/3 cups finely chopped onion
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 (8 ounce) cans tomato sauce
8 teaspoons all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons water
1 1/2 cups half and half
1 cup reduced fat milk
2/3 cup vodka
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground red pepper
1 cup (4 ounces) grated fresh parmesan cheese
4 tablespoons finely chopped basil

  1. Cook pasta according to directions, omitting salt and butter.  Drain.
  2. Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat.  Add onion and garlic, cover and cook 3 minutes or until tender. Add tomato sauce, simmer, partially covered, 8 minutes or until thick.  Combine flour and water, stirring with a whisk until smooth.  Add flour mixture to the pan, cook 1 minute.  Add half-and-half, milk, vodka, salt, and pepper, bring to a boil.  Stir in cheese.  Reduce heat to low, cook 3 minutes or until cheese melts, stirring frequently.  Add pasta, toss to coat.  Sprinkle with basil.  
Makes 8 servings that are 1 1/3  cups each.

This was really good in my opinion ... not as much butter as some recipes I've seen.  Of course there's half and half, milk and parm cheese!  All I can say is eat a great salad with this to keep your belly happy.  Use the best quality products you can find.  And enjoy it.  Once in awhile you can have a nice vodka sauce!  Especially if you make it!  The best part of my dinner tonight was my daughter helped me.  She cranked her 1D music and we measured, stirred and tasted.  She handled the kitchen while I ran out to get my daughter from practice.  Yay!  Help!

Have a fantastic weekend everyone!
Krista

 Our Giants/Cowboys rivalry last year! 



Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Chicken and Apples in the Crock

'Tis the season for easy recipes!


Because I picked up a whole chicken yesterday and actually had apple cider in my fridge, this was a no-brainer.  Love my crock pot, especially right now.  The rainy day made it even better.

This recipe calls for 6 boneless chicken breasts so I wasn't sure if the whole chicken thing would work.  But I knew I had to use it otherwise I had to freeze it and it's no fun when you have to defrost.  So I gave it a go, adding some cinnamon and brown sugar to the original recipe.

Chicken and Apples in the Crock

Ingredients:
1 cup apple cider
2 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 Tablespoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 Tablespoons butter
1 onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 whole chicken or 6 boneless chicken breasts
salt and pepper to taste
3 Granny Smith apples, cored and thickly sliced
2 Tablespoons dark brown sugar
1 Tablespoon cornstarch

  1. In a small bowl, combine apple cider, vinegar, nutmeg, cinnamon and curry powder.
  2. In a small microwave safe bowl, combine butter, onions and garlic.  Microwave on high for 1-2 minutes until onion is softened.  Place mixture in bottom of slow cooker.
  3. Place chicken into slow cooker, basting with the juice to coat all sides of it.  Pour remaining mixture over the chicken and season with salt and pepper.
  4. Cover and cook on low for 6 hours until chicken is tender.  
  5. Remove about a cup of the liquid from the cooker to a small bowl.  Add the 2 Tablespoons of brown sugar and mix until dissolved.  
  6. Add apples along with the brown sugar mixture and cook 40-50 minutes longer or until apples are tender.
  7. Mix together 1/3 cup juices from the crock and 1 T cornstarch in a small bowl.  Stir back into the crockpot.  Cover and cook on high, until sauce is thickened and bubbly, about 10-15 minutes.  
**Note on the whole chicken:  if you want to save even more time, use the boneless chicken breasts.  Although the chicken was amazingly tender, you do have to deal with the bones and separating the meat.  I do love having leftovers from the whole chicken to make soup with the next day.
 Found brussel sprouts at the store that were already sliced and ready to throw in a pan with some olive oil, garlic and parmesan cheese.  Was so easy and really good. 


Sometimes just walking in your house and smelling this awesome meal makes everyone happy.  The investment in a few minutes of prep and planning is huge!!!  Not just for the fam ... but for you. Once it's started, it is off that nagging list in your head.

Done!

Back to Christmas shopping!

Happy Eating,
Krista


Welcome to my Blog!

Thanks for visiting my blog ... I decided to write it as there were many concerned friends and family that needed to learn about this phase of my life - leading up to surgery on February 8th. I have now had the surgery and am recovering here at home. I love all your comments! They make me smile and I am so truly inspired by them! I can not believe how much support there is out there...it matters so much to us! Thank you from the bottom of my heart!