Curried Chicken and Rice Soup

I found the basics of this recipe on Pinterest, but based on my day and budget and what was in my fridge I had to make a lot of modifications. The result was a total keeper. The only thing I might do differently next time is double it because we snarfed it down.

Ingredients:

  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced (I used red onion, but white is fine too)
  • 2 large carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • 2-3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 3 cups cooked chicken, shredded or chopped into bite-sized pieces*
  • 4 cups chicken broth (it would not hurt to use more–the soup was really thick; use more if you like it brothy)
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 teaspoons curry powder
  • 1 teaspoon Kosher salt (this was more than the recipe called for; you do you)
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk
  • 2 packages steam-in-bag wild rice and long grain with vegetables, cooked**
  • 1 lime cut into wedges***
  • optional garnishes: fresh cilantro, crushed red pepper flakes, shredded coconut

Directions:

  1. Heat the olive oil in a stockpot over medium-high heat. Add the onion, carrots, and celery and cook for 6-7 minutes, until the onion is soft and translucent.
  2. Add the garlic and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes, until the garlic is fragrant.
  3. Add the chicken, chicken broth, bay leaf, curry powder, salt, and pepper and stir to combine.
  4. Stir in the coconut milk until fully incorporated and bring the soup barely to a boil.
  5. As soon as it boils, turn it down to simmer, partially covered for 20 minutes or so.
  6. When the rice is cooked, add it to the soup and continue simmering until rice is warmed through.
  7. Remove the bay leaf, and taste the soup and adjust with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve warm with a squeeze of lime juice and top with optional garnishes.

* I happened to use leftover pork since I had just the right amount, but a rotisserie chicken would be perfect as well

** This is where the budget came in. The original recipe called for 1 cup of wild rice (and then gave directions on how to cook it separately from the soup), but wild rice is  expensive, so I opted for the frozen bags of rice that had a bit of wild rice but also some regular long-grain rice. An even less expensive option would be to use white or brown rice–leftover would be just fine. I think it’s all good: the point is you’ll need about 4 cups cooked rice and you cook it separately from the soup and add it at the end.

*** You could also add a tablespoon or two of lime juice to the whole soup before serving.

Party (or Funeral) Potatoes

What’s in a name? Well, a lot, but the truth of it is that this hashbrown potato casserole is the same from here to eternity and the only giant difference is what you call it. Personally, I appreciate “party” potatoes. “Funeral” sound too glum, while “casserole” immediately makes me not want to eat it. But when it comes to serving a crowd, I’m all about filling up a big 9×13 dish with a crowd-pleaser like this one. And you know what? This casserole is slightly different from all the rest! Read through the instructions and you’ll see what I mean. It earned a few solid reviews from friends—and husband—last night so I’ll make it again for sure.

INGREDIENTS:

1/4 cup butter, melted
1 onion, peeled and quartered
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 tablespoon chicken base
1 pint (16 ounces) sour cream
1/4 cup milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 tablespoons dried parsley
2 packages (20 ounce) fresh shredded hash brown potatoes
2 cups cheddar cheese, grated

TOPPING
1 cup panko bread crumbs
1/3 cup crushed potato chips
2 tablespoons butter, melted

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 9×13 pan with non-stick cooking spray.

In a blender, pulse butter, onion, cream of mushroom soup, and chicken base several times to chop onion. Add sour cream, milk, salt and pepper, and pulse just until almost smooth. Stir in dried parsley.

In a very large bowl, combine the hash browns and cheddar cheese. Add the cream sauce and stir until it’s well combined. Pour into 9×13 pan and smooth the top.

Prepare topping: Mix panko crumbs, potato chips and melted butter in a Ziploc bag until well combined. Sprinkle evenly over the top of the casserole.

Bake uncovered for 1 hour until the sauce is bubbling and the topping is golden brown.

**I omitted the topping entirely and didn’t miss it.

Slow Cooker Chicken & Wild Rice Soup

This soup is like a hug. Comforting, warming, cozy. A brief note on my alterations is below the recipe.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
6 cups chicken stock
1 cup wild rice
3 cloves garlic, minced
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
1/2 teaspoon dried rosemary
2 bay leaves
1 pound cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
1 cup milk
1 cup half and half*
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

DIRECTIONS:

Season chicken with salt and pepper, to taste. Place chicken into a 6-qt slow cooker. Stir in chicken stock, wild rice, garlic, onion, carrots, celery, thyme, rosemary and bay leaves; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Cover and cook on low heat for 6-8 hours. Add mushrooms during the last 30 minutes of cooking time.

Remove chicken from the slow cooker and shred, using two forks.

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in milk and half and half, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes; season with salt and pepper, to taste. Stir chicken and milk mixture into the slow cooker. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.

Serve immediately, garnished with parsley, if desired.

Notes: My family doesn’t enjoy mushrooms whatsoever, so I omitted them. Some commenters noted a lack of flavor, and after a bit of research I figured the mushrooms add umami—and I needed to replace it. Beef broth, fish sauce, and soy sauce were all options, and as it turned out I only had soy sauce in the fridge. It worked wonderfully! I added enough to suit my tastebuds and the flavor was just right. As a final point, the soup does get mushier by the next day but that hasn’t bothered my family.

100 Good Sugar Cookies

100goodsugar

My grandma always made these cookies, and they were my sister’s favorite. I remembered them the other day, but neither my sister nor my aunts had the recipe. I googled what I could remember (crisp sugar cookie with rice crispies) and came up with this recipe that must be it. My sister thinks they were called “100 Good Sugar Cookies” (not surprisingly, that name yielded zero results), so that’s what we’ll call them from now on.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter (my grandma might have used margarine)
  • 1 cup white sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 cup rice crispies cereal

 Directions:

  1. Cream together the butter and sugar.
  2. Add the vanilla.
  3. Add dry ingredients and stir in rice crispies last.
  4. Roll into balls (about tablespoon size).
  5. Roll lightly in sugar and place on uncreased cookie sheets. Squish slightly with your palm.
  6. Bake at 350 for 11-12 minutes, or until cookies are golden around the edges.