Cream of Chicken Soup

Standard

IMG_0582

I’m into soup this time of year, and Cream of Chicken is not only a yummy soup, it’s a great base for lots of hearty and healthy winter dishes.  This easy, basic recipe makes a decent-sized pot of soup that can be used to make (in addition to just soup) Chicken Noodle Casserole, Chicken Pot Pie Cupcakes, and pretty much anything with a creamy chicken base!

I adapted this recipe from one that was a bit more complicated (and a lot less healthy) on foodnetwork.com.  This version is low fat  (low for a creamed soup!) and low salt.  For the EZ, I use store-bought rotisserie chicken AND store-bought gravy.  The pre-cooked chicken saves about an hour of cooking time, while adding richness to the soup’s flavor.  (You could always use leftover chicken in this soup, but the taste is superior using a whole rotisserie chicken.)  Using pre-made gravy saves the time (and guesswork) of whisking together flour and butter as a thickener.  For me it’s never as easy as the recipes describe to thicken a soup with flour and butter.  It gets lumpy.  I get grumpy.  So I like the gravy shortcut.

But.

When I say use Campbell’s canned chicken gravy, I suggest you don’t try to substitute another brand unless you check the label carefully.  After checking three other brands of canned or bottled gravy, I was disgusted with all the weird additives in the other gravies!  So I’d suggest using Campbell’s or making your own.

I will be posting other recipes that use this Cream of Chicken Soup as a base in coming days.  Meantime, if you live in a cold climate, fight off the cold with a bowl of nice hot Cream of Chicken Soup!  You can double this recipe and freeze the rest to use later.  (If you decide to double the recipe, only one rotisserie chicken need be simmered in the soup, with the meat from a second chicken added once the first carcass has been removed from the broth.)

INGREDIENTS

2 tablespoons butter

1 medium onion, chopped

2 cloves garlic, minced

2 stalks celery (with leaves), chopped

3 medium carrots, chopped

2 -cans (10 1/2 oz) Campbell’s chicken gravy or 2 1/2 cups homemade chicken gravy

6 cups chicken broth, homemade or low-sodium canned

1/2 to 1 cup (according to taste) sliced mushrooms

3 sprigs flat-leaf parsley

3 springs fresh thyme

1 bay leaf

1 whole cooked rotisserie chicken (from your grocery)

1/2 teaspoon fresh cracked black pepper

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic or garlic powder

1/2 cup half-and-half

2 tablespoons chopped flat-leaf parsley

Optional:

1/4 cup corn starch

1/2 cup water

DIRECTIONS

Melt the butter in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the onion, celery, and carrots and cook, covered, stirring occasionally, until soft, about 8-10 minutes. Add the gravy and cook through, stirring occasionally, for 2 -3 minutes more.

IMG_0532

Pour in the broth and stir well until gravy is dissolved into the broth. Add the whole chicken to the soup, including any juices (remove any twine or other foreign materials from the chicken before adding to soup).

IMG_0535

Bring the soup to a boil, stirring occasionally.

Tie the parsley sprigs, thyme, and bay leaf together with a piece of kitchen twine. (I used the twine from the rotisserie chicken!)

IMG_0538

Add herb bundle, mushrooms, onion powder, garlic powder, and  cracked pepper to soup.   Lower the heat and simmer for 15 minutes.

Turn off heat and remove chicken from pot.

(Optional:  For a creamier soup, pour about a third of the soup into a blender or Ninja/Vitamix and pulse til smooth.  Pour blended soup back into the pot.)

IMG_0544

IMG_0574

Let chicken carcass cool, and then shred chicken, removing and discarding bones and skin. Add chicken meat back into pot, and bring to a boil.

(Optional:  If you want a thicker soup …In a small bowl, stir together corn starch and water. Stir mixture into rapidly into boiling soup until it thickens, about 3-4 minutes.)

Remove pot from the heat.
Whisk the half and half into the soup and season with additional cracked pepper to taste. Remove and discard the herb bundle. Sprinkle chopped parsley atop soup and serve immediately (and freeze what’s left over!)

Turkey and Rice Chowder

Standard

IMG_0506

Perusing the internet looking for a turkey soup recipe, I ended up  gathering together a number of good ideas from my fave site, allrecipes.  Instead of soup I ended up with chowder, which is typically not on our menu due to the gazillion calories from fat usually found in chowders.  This one is easy to throw together, healthy, super delicious, no potatoes, and light on fat!

In this recipe I am focusing on the EZ – it takes about 25 minutes, start to finish!  It calls for canned gravy, store-bought rice mix and pre-roasted turkey.  Sounds questionable, I know!  But Campbell’s turkey gravy has a reasonable list of ingredients, (number one being turkey stock) nothing too weird, probably the worst being “flavoring” and “caramel color.”  No multisyllabic chemicals or fillers.  I felt ok with that on a night when I was tired and not up for a massive cooking project.  Also, there are a lot of healthy boxed rice mixes out there; you probably have a go-to favorite.  However …  if you’re averse to pre-made ingredients, you can easily substitute your own gravy, bulk rice, and home-roasted turkey in this recipe if you have some on hand; just use measuring cups that show both ounces and cups to make measuring your leftovers easier.

(PS:  As this recipe uses packaged rice mix, if you decide to use bulk rice, measure 1/2 cup rice into a medium saucepan, cover with water, bring to a boil and cook til al dente.  Make sure to add seasonings to taste to the water such as salt, garlic powder, and onion powder, to substitute for the seasoning packet found in boxed rice mixes.)

INGREDIENTS

1 (4.3 oz) box long grain and wild rice mix (prepared according to directions)

2 tablespoons butter

1/4 cup finely chopped onion

1/4 cup finely chopped celery

1 -10 1/2 oz can Campbell’s Turkey Gravy

3 to 3 1/4 cup chicken broth or stock

1/2 cup sliced mushrooms

1 medium carrot, shredded

1/2 cup frozen or canned, drained whole kernel corn

1 cup chopped cooked turkey (you can find Jenny-O and other brands of pre-cooked, roasted turkey, either breast or dark meat, in the frozen or rotisserie section of your grocery)

1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper, or to taste

1/4 cup chopped slivered almonds

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/4 cup half and half

DIRECTIONS

Cook rice according to package directions.  Remove from heat and set aside.

While rice is cooking, melt the butter in a soup pot over medium heat.  Cook and stir the onion, mushrooms, and celery until the onion is translucent, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the gravy, and any juices from the turkey, and cook through.  Gradually stir in the chicken stock until consistency is soup-like; add more chicken stock as needed for desired consistency.  Stir in the carrot and corn.

Bring the soup to a simmer on medium heat and cook, stirring occasionally, until the carrot is tender, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the rice, turkey, pepper, and almonds.  Return to a simmer, and cook 2-3 more minutes, stirring off and on, to heat through.  Stir in the lemon juice and half-and-half.  Bring the soup almost to a boil, at medium to medium-high heat, and serve hot.

Great with cornbread!

Serves:  8

Low Salt Chicken Soup

Standard

IMG_0492

Winter time is chicken soup time!  What makes this chicken soup EZ is using a store-bought rotisserie chicken and canned chicken stock rather than making it from scratch.  The flavor is very rich, and much better than any canned, high-sodium soup you can buy in the store!  I modified an online recipe I found, reducing salt and adding a little fiber with all-wheat noodles.   And with 12 servings you have plenty of leftovers to freeze for later (unless you’ve got a big brood to feed).

INGREDIENTS

1 teaspoon vegetable oil
1 cup chopped celery
1 cup chopped onion
2-3 cloves garlic, diced
1 large chopped carrot
12 cups (96 oz) chicken broth (low sodium)
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon cracked pepper
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 whole rotisserie chicken
2 1/2 cups whole grain flat noodle pasta
1/2 cup frozen peas
optional:
1/3 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup water
DIRECTIONS

1. In a large saucepan or Dutch oven, heat oil over medium high heat and add onion, celery, carrots and garlic. Saute until onion is translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add broth, bay leaf, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Bring to a boil.
2.Add whole rotisserie chicken, with juices from the package, to the broth.

IMG_0485

Reduce heat, cover, and simmer 15 minutes. Remove chicken and let cool. Debone, skin, and shred or chop chicken, discarding bones and skin.
3.Increase heat under the broth, bringing to a boil. Add noodles and peas, stir and return to a boil. Boil until noodles are al dente, about 5 min.

IMG_0488

Reduce heat to med and add chicken meat back to broth; bring to a simmer.

IMG_0490
Optional: In a small bowl, mix cornstarch and water together until cornstarch is completely dissolved. Gradually add to simmering soup, stirring constantly until soup thickens, about 5 min.

If you have leftovers, you may want to add a can or two of low sodium broth when you reheat this soup, as it is very thick and chunky.  Enjoy!

Spicy 4-Cheese “Now and Later” Lasagna

Standard

IMG_0099

Winter is a great time for baking (and eating) lasagna.  I adapted this recipe from one I found on allrecipes, substituting wheat lasagna noodles, spray oil, low fat cheeses and turkey sausage to make it healthier.  There are also plenty of healthy veggies folded into this lasagna – no reason not to make a pan or two!  And you don’t have to cook the pasta first, so it is an easy recipe to throw together.  This recipe makes two 8×8″ square baking dishes, one to bake now and one to freeze for baking later.

Ingredients

1 pound bulk hot Italian turkey sausage (or remove casings from a 1 lb. package of hot Italian turkey sausage links)

Spray oil

1 large onion, chopped

8 oz fresh mushrooms, chopped

3-4 cloves garlic, minced

2 chipotle chiles in adobo sauce, chopped (found in cans in the grocery store in the same place where you find salsa or other canned chilies like ortegas)

8 oz. tomato paste

1 (10 oz) can Rotel tomatoes with mild green chilies (or if you like it spicier, use the regular Rotel rather than the mild)

1 tsp garlic powder

Sea salt and coarse black pepper to taste

1/2 cup chopped fresh basil

1 tsp dried oregano

16 oz low fat (skim) ricotta cheese

1 (10 oz) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

About 12 whole wheat lasagna noodles

2 cups (16 oz) low fat mozarella, shredded

2 medium zucchinis, sliced thinly (and then cut in half if desired)

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese

Directions

Coat the bottom of a large, heavy-bottomed pot with spray olive oil.  Over medium-high heat, crumble turkey sausage into pot, breaking it up into small pieces and stirring occasionally until meat is lightly browned.  Add onion, garlic, and mushrooms.  Cook and stir until the onion has softened and turned translucent, about 5 minutes.

Stir in the chopped chipotle chilies, tomato paste, and Rotel tomatoes.  Add garlic powder.  Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to medium-low, simmering for 15 minutes.  Season to taste with salt and pepper, then stir in the basil and oregano.  Simmer 5 minutes more and then remove the sauce from heat.

While the sauce is simmering, use paper towels to absorb most of the liquid from the thawed spinach.  Stir ricotta cheese and chopped spinach together until well blended.  Stir in the 1/2 tsp. garlic powder and 1/2 tsp. onion powder.

For “Now” lasagna:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Spread a few tablespoons of sauce (just sauce, not meat) onto the bottom of a lightly greased 8×8″ baking dish.

Break uncooked lasagna noodles so they can fit inside the baking dish, placing one layer (about 3 whole noodles) across the bottom of the dish.  Spread 1/4 of the spinach/cheese mixture over the noodles.  Spread 1/4 of the meat sauce over the cheese mixture.

Top with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella and then 1/4 of the sliced zucchini.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over the zucchini. Repeat layers (for a total of two layers), ending with 1/4 cup of the grated Romano cheese on top.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil, and bake in preheated oven for 25 minutes.  Uncover, and continue baking until the lasagna is bubbly and top is lightly browned, 10 to 15 minutes more (if lasagna does not brown, turn up temperature to 425 and bake an additional 5-7 minutes).  Serves 4-6.

For “Later” lasagna:
Line another 8×8″ baking dish with heavy duty foil, extending the foil several inches over each side of the pan.  Lightly grease the foil lying on the bottom of the pan with spray olive oil.

Spread a few tablespoons of sauce (just sauce, not meat) on the bottom of the foil-lined pan.

Break uncooked lasagna noodles so they can fit inside the baking dish, placing one layer (about 3 whole noodles) across the bottom of the dish.  Spread half the remaining spinach/cheese mixture over the noodles.  Spread half of the remaining meat sauce over the cheese mixture.

IMG_0087

Top with 1/2 cup of the mozzarella and half of the remaining sliced zucchini.  Sprinkle 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese over the zucchini.

Repeat layers (for a total of two layers), ending with remaining grated Romano cheese on top.

Place the pan in the freezer until lasagna is firm (an hour or so).  Remove from freezer when firm and lift the lasagna out of the pan by grasping the edges of the foil.

IMG_0092

Fold foil over lasagna and then wrap in additional heavy duty foil until tightly sealed.  Freeze.

To bake from frozen:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Remove foil from lasagna and place in lightly greased 8×8″ baking dish.  Cover with foil and bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes or until knife comes out of center hot.  Remove foil and bake until bubbly and lightly browned, about 10-15 min.  (If lasagna does not brown, turn oven up to 425 for 5-7 additional minutes.)  Serves 4-6.

Crock Pot Turkey Chili

Standard

This healthy, hearty chili is great on cold winter nights!  I adapted it from a recipe on allrecipes.com.  If you like your chili spicy, there are suggestions at the end of the recipe that will add some heat.

IMG_0355

Ingredients

Spray oil

1 red or green bell pepper, diced

1 medium onion, chopped

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 medium zucchini, quartered

1 medium yellow squash, quartered

1 pound ground turkey

1 (1 oz) package dry taco seasoning

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon red chili pepper flakes

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon onion powder

4 tablespoons tomato paste

3 tablespoons reduced sugar ketchup

1 (14.5 oz) can beef broth

1 (10 oz) can Rotel mild tomatoes with green chilies

1 (3.5 oz) can diced green chilies

1 (15 oz) can kidney beans, drained

1 (15 oz) can black beans, drained

1 (15 oz) can whole kernel corn, drained

salt and pepper

1/2 cup cilantro leaves, chopped

1 bunch green onions, chopped

1 cup light sour cream

1 cup low fat shredded cheddar cheese

Directions

Coat a large frying pan with spray oil and heat over medium-high heat.  Cook bell pepper, onion, and garlic until onions are soft and somewhat translucent, about 3-5 minutes.

IMG_0348

Transfer cooked veggies to crock pot and then stir in quartered zucchini and yellow squash.

Brown turkey in the same frying pan over medium heat (add more spray oil if needed to prevent sticking).  Stir turkey with a wooden spoon, breaking apart meat as much as possible.  Season with taco seasoning, coriander, oregano, chili flakes, garlic powder, onion powder, tomato paste, and ketchup.  Stir together until meat is evenly coated.

IMG_0349

Add cooked turkey to crock pot, along with:  broth, tomatoes, green chilies, black beans, kidney beans, and corn, stirring until all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.

IMG_0352

Set crock pot to high and cook 3-4 hours, seasoning to taste with salt and pepper.

Ladle chili into serving bowls or cups, topping with sour cream, green onion, cilantro, and cheddar cheese.

Serves 6 to 8

IMG_0356

For spicier chili try any/all of these:

Increase red pepper flakes to 1 teaspoon; use ORIGINAL Rotel tomatoes with green chilies (rather than mild); use a hot taco seasoning mix.

Eggplant with chicken

Standard

IMG_0156

This easy, one-dish dinner is quick, healthy and tasty. It has just the right level of spice (you can adjust to your taste) and loads of flavor. I use Simply Organic curry and garam masala; you can use other brands but I could not vouch for the outcome! I adapted this recipe from an eggplant recipe on allrecipes.com.

This dish is also ideal for using up any leftover chicken or lamb you might have sitting in the fridge. If you have leftovers, substitute about 1/2 to 3/4 lb. cooked meat for the chicken breast. Chop cooked meat (no need to sauté) and add to eggplant mixture 15 minutes before eggplant is done. If you want a vegetarian meal, just leave out the meat altogether.

1 large eggplant
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 large onion, chopped
1 teaspoon chopped fresh ginger (or 1 teaspoon ginger paste)
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 large tomato, diced
1 teaspoon Simply Organic Curry Powder
Cayenne pepper to taste (optional)
Dash Simply Organic garam masala (optional)
1/2 teaspoon salt, or to taste
Ground black pepper to taste
1 boneless, skinless chicken breast (about 1/2 lb.)
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon onion powder
Salt and pepper
1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro

Rinse eggplant and slice into 1″ slices. (I like leaving the skins on, but if you prefer you can peel the eggplant before slicing.) Place the pieces on a paper towel and lightly salt them. Let sit for 1 to 2 hours, allowing water to sweat out of the eggplant. Pat eggplant slices dry with another paper towel, and then cut the eggplant into small cubes.

Heat the olive oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Add the cumin seeds and let them turn golden brown, which should only take about 20 seconds (do not let them burn). Add the onion, ginger and garlic; cook and stir until tender. Stir in the tomato and season with curry powder, cayenne (optional) and garam masala (optional), salt and black pepper. Cook and stir for a few minutes.

Add cubed eggplant and cook at medium heat, covered, stirring often, for about a half hour, or until eggplant loses most of its water and has darkened and softened.

IMG_0154

While the eggplant is cooking, season chicken breast with onion powder, garlic powder, salt and pepper. Heat a medium frying pan coated with spray oil over medium high heat. Sear chicken breast in the pan until both sides are brown but middle is still pink, about 5-7 minutes per side. Remove chicken from heat and let cool; cube chicken when it is cool enough to handle.

When eggplant has been cooking about 30 minutes and has lost most of its water and has darkened and softened, add cubed chicken and cook an additional 20 to 30 minutes. Taste and adjust seasonings if desired. Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.

Serves 4.

Quick Low-Sugar Orange Sweet Rolls for Two

Standard

It’s Thanksgiving morning and I am craving … Pillsbury orange rolls!! But I don’t want to consume all the hydrogenated oils, artificial ingredients, and corn syrup solids (yuk). It’s just hubby and I this Thanksgiving, so I set out to find a small-scale recipe for homemade sweet rolls.

This recipe was adapted from two I found online at dessertfortwo.com and averiecooks.com. I substituted Truvia sugar blends where I could and reduced the butter to make these quick, no-yeast, YUMMY orange rolls. The consistency is denser than yeast-based rolls, which is fine by me cuz I like dense when it comes to sweet carbs! The picture below reveals that I doubled the recipe (couldn’t resist), but if you follow the instructions below you will end up with just four delicious orange rolls. Happy Thanksgiving! :)

IMG_0126

Rolls

3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon Truvia baking blend sugar, divided use
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1/8 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons butter, melted
1 1/2 tablespoons Truvia brown sugar blend
1 teaspoon cinammon

Glaze

1 tablespoon light orange juice
1/8 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
dash salt
1 tablespoon orange zest

Preheat oven to 375 and spray 4 cups in a muffin pan with cooking spray. Pour water into remaining cups, about half-full.

Combine the flour, half a tablespoon of sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl.

In a small measuring cup, combine the milk, vinegar, and 2 tablespoons melted butter.

Add the wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until a soft dough forms. Flour your hands and pick up the dough, forming a ball.

Flour a work surface and pat the dough out into a rectangle about 6″ long (you can use a floured rolling pin if you like), sprinkling sufficient flour on the dough to ensure that it does not stick.

Pour 1 1/2 tablespoons melted butter on top of the dough.

Combine the brown sugar, cinnamon, and half a tablespoon of sugar. Press this mixture lightly into the butter on top of the dough. Carefully roll the dough up, starting with the long side. Roll away from you. When the roll is complete, pinch the entire seam shut.

Cut the dough into four rounds and drop into the greased muffin cups. Bake 14-15 minutes, until lightly browned.

While rolls are baking, in a medium bowl combine orange juice, vanilla, confectioner sugar and salt; whisk in zest. Glaze should be somewhat runny; if yours is thick or stiff, add drops of milk until it is a smooth, liquid consistency.

When rolls are done, remove to a plate and pour glaze over them. Serve!