Chicken Pho

IMG_3867Oh man, this recipe is everything I wanted it to be: (so) easy, (so) delicious, a big hit with kids and adults. And if you make it a Pho-riday (get it? get it?), all the better.

I found this recipe in an old issue of Eating Well.

Ingredients:

  • 8 cups chicken broth (I used 6 cups broth and 2 cups water, and would do it again)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce
  • 10 whole star anise
  • 6 whole cloves
  • 1 2-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and thinly sliced
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 2 bone-in chicken leg quarters, skin removed, trimmed (the original recipe calls for chicken breasts, but this is what I used, and I’d do it again)
  • 8 ounces wide rice noodles (the original recipe calls for 6 ounces, but we had an 8-ounce package, and Jason likes the noodles, so…)
  • 6 cups chopped bok choy
  • 2 cups mung bean sprouts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh mint leaves
  • 1 cup fresh cilantro leaves
  • 1 fresh jalapeño, thinly sliced
  • Sriracha or chile-garlic sauce
  • 1 lime, cut into 6 watches

Directions:

  1. Combine broth, brown sugar, fish sauce, star anise, cloves, ginger, and cinnamon stick in a 5- to 6-quart slow cooker. Add chicken, meat-side down. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours (or high for 4 hours).
  2. Transfer the chicken to a cutting board. Remove and discard spices. Add noodles and bok choy to the slow cooker. Cover and cook on high for 30 minutes.
  3. Remove the chicken from the bone and shred with two forks. When the noodles are tender, stir in the chicken.
  4. Serve bowls of soup with bean sprouts, basil, mint, cilantro, jalapeños, Sriracha, and limes on the side, so everyone can add their own toppings.

 

Roasted Chicken with Cranberries and Winter Vegetables

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So I might be a little bit obsessed with this meal. It’s the kind of meal that I want to get every single flavor in every bite, but there are so many flavors that it can’t really (or can only barely) be done. It’s seasonal and beautiful (chicken notwithstanding) and super easy. A little bit of a disclaimer: cooked Brussel sprouts do not smell good. I took this meal to a friend’s house tonight to celebrate their new baby, and when we got back in the car, Clara said, “Are you kidding me? It still stinks in here?” Ha. But the taste is worth it.

Ingredients

  • 1 pound Brussel sprouts, trimmed and halved (or quartered if they are really big)
  • 2 small (or 1 medium) sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 small acorn squash, seeds removed and sliced thinly (peeled is optional)
  • 1 1/2 cups fresh or frozen whole cranberries
  • 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (could also use chicken breasts)
  • 4 tablespoons butter or ghee
  • 7 fresh sage leaves
  • salt and pepper to taste

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 415 degrees.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and spread the vegetables and cranberries on the sheet, then add the chicken on top.
  3. Melt the butter or ghee in a small saucepan, and add the sage leaves just until they wilt a bit.
  4. Drizzle the butter and sage over the chicken and vegetables and salt and pepper as desired.
  5. Bake for 30-35 minutes.

Tempura

Transforming a beautiful plate of vegetables into a beautiful-in-a-different-way plate of deep fried vegetables has become one of our favorite Christmas Eve traditions. I’m not gonna lie: tempura is not super easy to make because it’s pretty labor intensive.  which is why it is a once-a-year kind of meal. But, it’s so delicious. The recipe comes originally from Alton Brown, and we have modified it over the past couple of years to reflect our family’s tastes. Although we do have chicken, the vegetables are by far everyone’s favorites.tempura

Ingredients

  • the vegetables and protein you’re going to fry–we use 2 small sweet potatoes, sliced; 1 zucchini or yellow squash, sliced; 1 head of broccoli, cut into small florets; green beans (1/2 pound maybe?); 1/2 avocado, sliced; 1 1/2 pounds chicken, cut into bite-sized pieces
  • 1/2 cup (heaping) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup (heaping) white rice flour
  • 1 1/2 quarts vegetable oil (for each pan that you use to fry; I used two this time, and it worked well)
  • 1 1/2 cups cold seltzer water (or club soda or sparkling water; do not sub tonic water)
  • 1/2 cup vodka
  • 1 large egg, beaten
  • (ice to line a bowl that you’ll set the batter in)
  • salt to taste

Directions

  1. Prepare your vegetables and chicken–slice, trim, chop, peel; do what you need to do.
  2. Whisk together the flour and rice flour in a medium glass bowl. Divide in half and then set the flour mixture aside.
  3. Heat the vegetable oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven over high heat until it reaches 375 degrees on a deep-fry thermometer (or until bubbles form around the handle of a wooden spoon; every year I have to Google how to tell if oil is hot enough).
  4. When the oil is getting close to ready, whisk the seltzer water, vodka, and egg together and divide the mixture in half. Put half the wet mixture in the refrigerator to reserve.
  5. Pour half the wet mixture into half of the flour mixture and which to combine. (I have generally found we need to add a little more flour to at least half of the batter, sometimes to both halves). It will make a thin (but not watery) batter.
  6. Set the bowl of batter into a larger bowl lined with ice.
  7. Dip the vegetables in the batter and let drain for a few seconds over the bowl, then drop them carefully into the hot oil. Fry 6-8 pieces at a time until puffy and very light golden, about 1-2 minutes (the chicken takes a little longer).
  8. Remove to a cooling rack lined with 3 layers of paper towels, and sprinkle with salt as desired.
  9. When you run low on batter, whisk up the other half of the liquid and the flours.
  10. Tempura may be held in a 200 degree oven to keep warm. Alton Brown said the texture would be compromised, but I thought it was just fine. :)

Saffron Buns for St. Lucia’s Day

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I made these saffron buns (original recipe here) for our impromptu St. Lucia’s Day celebration this year. They were fairly easy to make (setting the alarm to get out of bed and let the dough rise was the worst part), and they were very tasty. I was pleased to read that although they are traditionally served on St. Lucia’s Day (December 13), they are also served throughout the Advent season. Perhaps in years to come, we can make the celebration more authentic by having Clara serve us the buns in bed.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon saffron threads
  • 1 teaspoon plus 1/4 cup sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons yeast (or 1 package)
  • 3 1/2 to 4 cups flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/4 cup sour cream (or quark if available)
  • 2 large eggs
  • raisins

Glaze

  • 1 egg, beaten
Directions:
  1. In a small saucepan, heat the milk, saffron threads, and 1 teaspoon sugar until the milk begins to steam. Remove from heat and let cool until it’s still warm to the touch but no longer hot (about 3 minutes).
  2. Sprinkle the yeast over the milk in the saucepan and let sit until foamy, 5-10 minutes.
  3. Whisk together 3 1/2 cups of flour, 1/4 cup sugar, and salt.
  4. Make a well in the center of the flour and add the milk mixture, eggs, butter, and sour cream or quark. Mix until well incorporated.
  5. Knead the dough. You can do this by hand, but the dough hook of a stand mixer works well. Slowly add additional flour, a tablespoon at a time, kneading to incorporate after each addition. Do this until the dough is still a little sticky to the touch, but does not completely stick to your hands when you handle it.
  6. Shape the dough into a ball and place in a large bowl. Cover with plastic wrap. (Note: if you are going to let the dough sit in the refrigerator overnight, this is when it goes in.)
  7. (Take the dough out of the refrigerator and) Let the dough sit in a warm place for 1 to 2 hours, until the dough has doubled in size.
  8. When the dough has doubled in size, gently press it down and knead it a couple of times. Break off a piece and form it into a ball about 2 inches wide (about the size of a golf ball). Roll the ball out into a snake, about 14 inches long. Then Curl the ends in opposite directions, forming an “S” with spirals at each end. Place on a lined baking sheet and repeat with the rest of the dough.
  9. Let the dough sit for a second rise. Place in a warm spot for 30 minutes to an hour.
  10. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Brush the beaten egg over the tops and sides of the uncooked buns, and place the raisins in the center of the spirals.
  11. Bake for 10 to 11 minutes until the buns are golden brown.

Broccoli Cheese Soup

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This recipe provides a great baseline for a delicious broccoli cheese soup to share among friends. Suggestions on the Allrecipes.com page included increasing the broccoli and the cheese, and using half and half instead of milk. Mess with the ingredients on your own to come up with a combo that suits you!

Ingredients

  • 1/2 cup butter
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 (16 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli
  • 4 (14.5 ounce) cans chicken broth
  • 1 (1 pound) loaf processed cheese food, cubed
  • 2 cups milk
  • 1 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 2/3 cup cornstarch
  • 1 cup water

Directions

  1. In a stockpot, melt butter over medium heat. Cook onion in butter until softened. Stir in broccoli, and cover with chicken broth. Simmer until broccoli is tender, 10 to 15 minutes.
  2. Reduce heat, and stir in cheese cubes until melted. Mix in milk and garlic powder.
  3. In a small bowl, stir cornstarch into water until dissolved. Stir into soup; cook, stirring frequently, until thick.

 

**My alterations: 2 T butter + olive oil for softening the onions, then add a handful of chopped carrots in and some garlic. Chop up about 30oz broccoli florets keeping in mind they will decrease significantly in size while cooking. Use 1 pound Velveeta + grated sharp white cheddar. Skip cornstarch in favor of 1/4 C Wondera (flour) for thickening.

One Pot Pasta Bolognese

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This recipe is a keeper (thanks, Morgan at Host the Toast!) and is particularly well-suited to hosting a larger gathering of friends or family. Or, if you’re like my family of three, it will serve leftovers for a few days afterwards. If you’re replacing the tagliatelle noodles with fettucine—heads up—you might add a few minutes to your cooking time. The al dente was a step or two shy of al dente-ness, though that meant the reheating process the next day yielded a perfect noodle.

PREP TIME: 10 mins, COOK TIME: 40 mins, TOTAL TIME: 50 mins

Serves: 6 servings

INGREDIENTS

  • 4 slices bacon, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 stalk celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • Kosher salt and black pepper, to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes, plus more to taste
  • 1.5 lb ground chuck
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 28 ounces crushed tomatoes
  • 3 cups reduced sodium chicken stock (or 2 cups chicken stock and 1 cup wine)
  • 4 sprigs thyme
  • 1 pound tagliatelle or spaghetti
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ½ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves

 

DIRECTIONS

  1. In a dutch oven or large skillet over medium heat, cook the bacon until lightly crisped. Mix in the onion, celery, and garlic, and season liberally with salt and pepper. Mix in ¼ teaspoon red chili flakes, adding slightly more if you prefer more heat in your sauce. Cook together until the onion has softened, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add in the ground chuck. Cook, breaking up the meat with a wooden spoon, for 5 minutes or until browned all over. Once browned, stir in the tomato paste, crushed tomatoes, chicken stock, and thyme.
  3. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Then, uncover, remove the thyme sprigs, stir the pasta in, and continue to simmer for 15 minutes or until the pasta is cooked through and the sauce has thickened, stirring occasionally.
  4. Stir in the milk, parmesan cheese, and shredded basil, and adjust the seasonings to taste. Serve with additional basil, to garnish.

The Best Chicken Soup

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A quick recipe search for cold-fighting chicken soups yielded this one. I used it as a guideline in my Koselig Cooking series and the flavor was absolutely perfect. I skipped the alcohol and greens this time around and instead included almost a cup of rice. It’s easily adaptable.

2 Tbsp coconut oil
Salt and pepper
1 whole chicken, about 4 to 5 pounds
3 large leeks, cleaned and sliced thin
3 carrots, sliced in 1/4-inch rounds
3 celery sticks, chopped 1/4-inch
6 cloves garlic, thinly sliced
2 tsp fresh thyme, minced
2 whole sprigs fresh rosemary, 1 (about 1 tsp) minced
2 Tbsp flour
1 cup white wine, sherry or vermouth
6 cups low sodium chicken stock
2 bay leaves
4 cups winter greens, chard, kale, beet greens, sliced
1/4 cup parsley, chopped

Instructions:
1. In a 6 quart Dutch oven or comparable heavy-bottomed pot heat coconut oil or other high-heat oil over medium-high heat until shimmering but not yet smoking. Season chicken with salt and pepper inside and out. Place chicken in pot and sear on all sides until golden brown, turn when each side removes easily from the bottom of the pot. Remove to a plate, and reduce heat to medium.
2. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of oil in pot, you can reserve the drippings and rendered chicken fat for dumplings or just discard. Saute leeks, carrots and celery until soft, about 4-5 minutes. Add half of the thinly sliced garlic and minced herbs, stirring for another 30 seconds. Sprinkle with flour and stir for another minute.
3. Using a heave wooden spoon, scrape of the browned bits from the bottom of the pot as you add the wine. As the bottom becomes clean add chicken stock. Return chicken and any accumulated drippings to pot. Cover and cook until chicken is tender and will easily pull apart, about 40-50 minutes. If using chopped potatoes, turnips, parsnips or sweet potatoes, add after 20 minutes.
4. Remove chicken and whole herbs from pot, discard herbs. Remove meat from chicken, discarding bones. Return chicken meat to pot and stir in along with the rest of the garlic, greens and parsley. Cook until greens are tender, about 5 minutes. Serve hot, alone, with noodles, or wild rice.