Chicken, Bacon & Wild Rice Soup (from Pinch of Yum)

Pinch of Yum is a really great food blog I’ve been following a long time.  In addition to their wide range of recipes, Lindsay and Bjork also offer a lot of great advice on topics such as food photography and making an income with your blog.

Yesterday I followed their recipe for Chicken Bacon Wild Rice Soup.  Obviously I can’t give you the whole recipe here, but I just wanted to save a few notes for myself (and you, if you’re interested) about what it was like to make this recipe.

One thing: This recipe makes a creamy soup with a lot of liquid.  I ended up increasing some of the ingredients because I wanted more of a stew/one-pot meal.   I used:

  • 1.5 cups uncooked rice instead of 1/2 cup
  • an entire 1.25-lb package of chicken

It came out really, really good.

I really liked how easy it was to follow this recipe.  As I made it, I realized there were basically three main steps, which could be adapted to make all different kinds of soups: (Yep… definitely still a beginner here!).  Anyway: 

1. Cook chicken broth, scallions, and rice

2. Make the creamy bechamel-inspired sauce

3. Combine everything at the end.  For me, using pre-cooked chicken and bacon makes the recipe a little bit easier to follow, since I don’t have to worry about the meat getting fully cooked in the broth.

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It came out great, and I’d definitely make it again.  (I think next time I might add some chopped carrots in at step 3).

Anyway, that’s all for now!  If you want to know more, be sure to check out the original recipe!  Bon Appetit!

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Jon’s “Take Out” Pasta: Sauteed Garlic, Alfredo & Pesto Sauce

I call this dish “Jon’s take out pasta” because it is so good, it could honestly be from a restaurant.

The recipe is courtesy of my friend Jon, who is also on a mission to become a better cook.

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Such a simple recipe with premade sauces– although Jon assures me it’s taken him a lot of trial and error to figure out the exact ingredients to buy for this dish.

Here are all the ingredients you need for Jon’s Take-Out Pasta:

  • Olive Oil
  • one small clove garlic
  • Cavatappi Pasta
  • Alfredo Sauce (Jon likes Bove’s brand the best)
  • Pesto Sauce (Jon always buys Prego)

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I decided to make this dish with chicken breast, although that’s not technically not part of Jon’s original masterpiece.

Basically, you bring the pasta to a boil:

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At the same time, you finely chop the garlic and saute it in olive oil.IMG_0206.JPG

Once the garlic has become translucent, you can add chopped chicken breast and saute it as well.

OR

You can simply skip that step.

Once the pasta is done, drain it and add it to the pan.  Then add alfredo and pesto sauce to taste.  Jon basically uses two parts alfredo to one part pesto, but you can play around with the ratios.

And that’s it!

I know it’s not really a fancy or new recipe but you’ve got to try it.

It’s so quick and easy and way to get something that tastes great, with a lot of oomph, that can satisfy a craving (and help you save money on takeout!).

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I think lightly sauteed broccoli would probably go pretty well in this, but I’ll save that for next time.

Enjoy!

Sage, Browned Butter & Almond Topping (for Chicken)

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This little recipe is actually another great snippet from a larger Blue Apron recipe.  I don’t always have the time to re-create and shop for an elaborate meal, so I’m trying to pick out useful ideas that I can easily incorporate into my own meal creations in the future.

This chicken recipe was super simple and easy.

Basically, you start by searing chicken breasts or thighs in a pan with olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste.

Once the chicken has been thoroughly browned, you set it aside but leave the liquid and browned bits (“frond”) in the pan to create the base for the sauce.

You then melt 2 tablespoons of butter in with the frond:

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Once the butter is mostly melted, you add in chopped sage leaves and almonds (Ok, I forgot to chop them before taking this picture, but ideally you should chop them into fine pieces!).

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Once all three ingredients are browned and thoroughly combined, you can use as a topping on the chicken, as well as on your side dish.

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Blue Apron combined this chicken with the autumn vegetable hash I described in my last post– this garnish worked well on all of it.

img_5014  That’s all for now!  Happy cooking!

Broccolini Mac and Cheese with Chicken (Gobble)

So, I’m back in San Francisco.

I’m thinking I might want to move here permanently someday, so I came to spend the month staying with my friend Karen and helping her with her start-up.

Oscar the cat is, of course, very happy that I’m back.

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An added bonus of staying is that Karen has a subscription to Gobble, a dinner-kit delivery service that advertises itself as being for the “kitchen-adverse.”  In comparison to some of the similar companies I’ve tried (Blue Apron and HelloFresh), Gobble’s meals are supposed to be ready in 10 minutes, and require less preparation.

I’ve made a few of their meals now, and I have to say I really like Gobble.  I think it might just be my favorite of all the services I’ve tried.  To say the meals will be ready in 10 minutes is a bit mis-leading– some of them require way more cook time– but I think it’s fair to say that they will take about 10 minutes of preparation/assembly.

I also find the instructions are easier to understand, and I also just seem to like the recipe choices better.   Lastly, the portions seem to be bigger– the recipe in this post provided enough food for dinner for 3 girls, instead of the 2 advertises.

What’s not to love?  If Gobble was available on the East Coast, I would totally sign up.

The meal pictured in this post is the pan-roasted chicken with mac’n’cheese, made with orichette pasta and broccolini.

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I can’t give out the whole recipe here, but there are a few things that made this recipe really simple and inconvenient that I wanted to share here.  I liked this approach and can see myself following this general pattern to create similar dishes in the future.

General recipe tips:

-Chicken was seasoned with salt and pepper and pan-fried in olive oil.

-The fresh pasta had to be boiled for 5 minutes, and then the chopped broccolini was added in for the last minute.  (I’m always up for efficient recipes/using the same pot for more than one thing!).

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— The cheese sauce (bechamel sauce and shredded cheese) was then assembled in the same pan the chicken had been cooked in, to absorb the juices.  The pasta and broccolini was then added, and then served alongside the chicken.

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I’m not going to lie to you, I know the pictures for this blog could use a little work.  That’s something I plan to work on in the future!  For now, I hope you at least enjoyed the recipe!!!

Chicken Pot Pie with Sage Buttermilk Biscuits & Red-Top Turnips (Blue Apron)

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Honestly, I usually have a hard time getting excited about chicken pot pie.   It’s so… blah.  I never really got what the big deal was.

However, this chicken pot pie recipe from Blue Apron was different.  The vegetables were so crisp and fresh; the flavors cleaner somehow.

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All the ingredients, as they came packaged.

The recipe differed from traditional chicken pot pie in several ways.  For one, instead of a “pie” crust, the chicken and vegetable “filling” cooked on the bottom, while buttermilk biscuits steamed on top.

It also used turnips in the place of potatoes, which gave it an interesting earthy, bitter flavor.  I really wasn’t familiar with turnips before this, but now I feel like I finally get why people cook with them.

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Cremini mushrooms
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Carrots, celery, and sage

I also found the recipe’s use of sage to be interesting.  Half of the sage was mixed in with the vegetables as they cooked, and the other half was actually mixed right into the biscuit batter.

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Buttermilk biscuit batter, with pieces of sage stirred in

Obviously I can’t give you the whole recipe here (you can find it on the Blue Apron website), but basically, the vegetables and sage were first cooked together, and then shredded poached chicken breast was added.

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I wasn’t really familiar with the concept of poaching before (with the exception of poached eggs, which everyone’s heard of).

Basically, to poach the chicken breast, you put it in a pot where it’s covered by 2″ of water, bring it to all boil, and then turn the burner off and let it sit for 10-15 minutes.

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I think I left mine in for too long (it looked a bit overcooked), but I can see how poaching is a quick and easy way to make sure the chicken is cooked all the way through.  Then you can add it into a larger dish, where it will pick up more flavor without dictating how long the other ingredients have to be cooked.

My “after” picture didn’t really come out so great (need to invest in a better camera!) but I can tell you that the dish came out tasting much better than it looks here!  Cremini mushrooms, red-top turnips, and sage and buttermilk biscuits for the win!

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Chicken, Broccoli, & Soba Noodle Stir-Fry

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I’ve been really into stir-fry’s lately.  It’s been a process of trial and error, but I think I’ve finally got it right here.  What I wanted to do is come up with a very simple recipe that could be made in a hurry, with ingredients you’re likely to have in your kitchen anyway.  Here, the sauce is super simple: vegetable oil, reduced-sodium teriyaki sauce, and white sugar.

Jamie Oliver (as usual) had some very helpful advice.  He pointed out a few things I didn’t realize from reading other recipes.  Basically, you want the oil and the pan to be piping hot before anything else goes in, and you want to cook the food fast, moving things constantly.

Jamie also explains that it’s really best not to try to cook more than one or two portions at a time, because you want to give the food enough room in the pan to let off steam.  If things are too crowded, you end up sort of steaming/boiling the food, and you don’t want that.

I always appreciate your advice, Jamie– thank you.

Anyway, for my recipe, you need:

  • 5 tbsp Vegetable or canola oil
  • One clove garlic
  • Two chicken thighs or breasts
  • 1 cup broccoli (or whatever other vegetables you want)
  • 1-2 cups cooked soba noodles

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A note on the soba noodles: I used the precooked KAME brand noodles, because I really think they work best and taste best.  This blog is all about saving money, but here I think it’s worth the extra dollar or two, versus the dried noodles.  I had tried the Annie Chung’s brand, but they had so much salt added they ruined the flavor of the overall dish.  Whichever brand you buy, check the sodium content first!  The KAME noodles only have 1% of your daily value per serving.

For the sauce (heat separately in another pan and add at the end):

  • 3 tbsp Vegetable or canola oil
  • 2 tbsp Reduced sodium teriyaki sauce (I used Kikkoman)
  • 1 tbsp white sugar

In a nutshell:

  1. Chop up chicken, garlic, and broccoli first, so you don’t have to do any chopping while things are cooking.
  2. Heat up approx. 5 tbsp of oil in a frying pan.
  3. Throw in the chicken and garlic first, and stir them constantly for 2-3 minutes.
  4. After the chicken looks as though it has started to cook on the outside, but is still slightly raw on the inside, throw in the broccoli and continue to stir constantly.
  5. Once the chicken looks cooked, it’s time to add the soba noodles.  If there isn’t room in the pan, set the chicken and broccoli aside on a plate and just stir-fry the vegetables in oil, then recombine.
  6. Add the sauce at the end and let everything sit for a few minutes before serving,

The finished product:

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Proscuitto-Wrapped Chicken with Pesto

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Romina cooked dinner for both of us last week, and came up with this recipe all on her own.

I’m so impressed by her ability to improvise when she’s cooking.  I always try to ask questions and figure out her thought process when I see her making something new.  My plan is to take full advantage of the fact that I live with such an amazing cook, in the hopes that some of her skills will rub off on me.  (Of course, I asked her permission before putting her recipes on this blog).

Romina made this dish with the homemade pesto I wrote about earlier this week.

First, she covered the chicken breasts in pesto, and then left them in the refrigerator overnight so they would soak up more flavor.

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The next day, she wrapped them in proscuitto (I wasn’t here for this part, so unfortunately there’s no picture) and then baked them.  She put the wrapped chicken breasts in the same pan as her equally delicious vegetable side, which was carrots and Brussels sprouts with salt, cumin, and honey.

She put everything in the pan and then added a few chunks of butter, to eventually melt all over everything.  She then baked everything at 350 degrees for 25 minutes, keeping an eye on it periodically towards the end.

The finished result:

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I cut one of the chicken pieces in half, so you could see how she wrapped them.

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What an incredible recipe.  I will also be posting the recipe for her side dish, so stay tuned!