tonight: ginger-turmeric chicken & vegetable soup

tonight: ginger-turmeric chicken and vegetable soup

It’s soup season. It’s also cold and flu season. And, well, I just want to curl up on the sofa and chill-lax season.

You all know what I’m talking about, because you’re starting to feel the stresses of the season, too!

Last week I was sitting around the table with my daughter and daughter-in-law. We had our glasses of wine and cups of coffee. Yes, we were double drinking and playing a mostly incorrect card game. And chatting. Our conversation moved to the health benefits of certain herbs and spices; how adding a few extra items to soup or a cup of tea can improve how we feel.

Forever and across the world, chicken soup has been the comfort food for what ails you.

It doesn’t matter if you just want comfort after a long day, or you’ve actually let the mucus guy on the commercial set up residence.  Chicken soup is what we have to have.

While every Mom knows it’s good stuff, scientists have studied the concoction and come up with a few perfectly fabulous reasons to consume chicken soup. Basically, there’s good nutrition in the vegetables, along with amino acids in the chicken, you’ll be more hydrated and honestly, it tastes great. There’s definitely more to the health benefits story, but that’s it in a nutshell.

Two specific spices that the girls and I were talking about were ginger and turmeric.

I have a Moroccan chicken stew recipe that includes these two ingredients, plus some others, which got me to thinking. Why not include ginger and turmeric in my ever-changing chicken soup recipe?

Remember the season we’re in? Yeah, this ended up being a busy-person recipe, because I used pre-made stock. However, the pot would have a lot more nutritional value if you take time to make stock from the whole chicken, including the bones. But, alas, this particular soup utilized the already done liquid and my trusty slow-cooker.

Ginger-Turmeric Chicken and Vegetable Soup

ingredients

  • 2 large chicken breasts
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup each chopped carrots, onions, celery and fennel
  • 1 cup orange juice
  • 1 tablespoon each grated fresh ginger, powdered turmeric and minced garlic
  • 1 cup rough chopped parsley
  • Salt and cracked pepper to taste

method

I literally dumped everything except the parsley, salt and pepper into the slow-cooker. Set on low, it simmered all day long, around 8 hours. Arriving home famished, I used two forks to shred the chicken breasts, tasted for salt and pepper then stirred in the parsley.

And, you know what else? I didn’t make a salad since the vegetable factor was already happening!

Happy eating, my friends –Missy

 

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off-grid thanksgiving

off grid thanksgivingTrue confession: I’d rather go off-grid since roast turkey isn’t my favorite. I like it. I’m quite fond of turkey sandwiches slathered with mayo, Dijon and cranberry sauce, all squeezed together on a potato roll. Therefore, each year I find myself gravitating to the sides that surround the bird. They absolutely have more appeal for me.

It seems some people feel free to do their own thing at such Holiday gatherings.

I envy their freedom from tradition, since a good part of my family loves the tried and true; basically, don’t mess with stuff. So, my nod to breaking free is to include at least one or a few mix-ups from the traditional, while still playing a riff of what’s expected.

off grid thanksgivingOne time we roasted a turducken a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey. It was pretty darned good, and devoured by all. And, of course stuffing is always easy to reconstruct by using different bread or add-ins like fruit, nuts or meat. A couple years back it was double corn stuffing with green chiles to go with a southwest-seasoned, smoked turkey.

This year we’ve (family included) chosen to forgo the ubiquitous mashed potatoes for a potato soufflé and the golden-brown whole bird for a porchetta-style turkey breast.

I’d love to show you glorious photos of the Bon Appetit recipe, but the dish hasn’t been tried yet; a brave move for such a big event, but hey, I’m game. As a matter of fact, the suggestion to go off-grid, if only for part of our feast, wasn’t my suggestion. Honestly, I’d been contemplating how to do it. Remarkably, when my daughter and daughter-in-law tossed out different recipes that they wanted to prepare, the contemplation came together.

thanksgiving there will be pie

Not all of our meal with be off-grid. There will be stuffing, cranberry sauce shaped like a can, olives and pickles, bread rolls and pumpkin pie with whipped cream. Turkey will be there, but rolled and tied. As well as potatoes and vegetables roasted to crisp perfection. My favorite cranberry pie will attend the affair bringing along Pavlova as its plus one.

It will be a grand feast of thankfulness. I hope yours is too!

Happy eating, my friends –

Missy

 

 

 

 

 

tonight: fried egg tostadas

tonight fried egg tostada

Come the end of the week, I’m out of food ideas and often out of ingredients. As a matter of fact, a blog I read has a section called “rent week” meals. It’s all about good, cheap eats and stretching what’s in the cupboard. I get that it’s geared toward young people who are stretching dollars when bills come due, but don’t we all have times when there’s simply not much left?

So, Saturday morning arrived. It wasn’t rent week, but we needed to go to the market, that whole bare spots in the cupboard thing coupled with a lack of kitchen revelation. I really didn’t want to fix just eggs and toast. You see, my cute man adores eggs, and Saturday is when I indulge his love affair with some brilliant egg concoction. Honestly, I had nothing.

Staring at the fridge like a starved teen,  I saw said eggs, some left over corn salsa, sharp cheddar cheese and – now that the price has gone down – glorious avocados. It was one of those hallelujah moments with the light from the refrigerator. And so, we dined on the fragments of leftovers and called them tostadas.

My leftovers happened to have the name Trader Joe’s written on the packages and containers, but use what’s available, play with different types of tortillas or cheese or salsa. Food is meant to be enjoyable as well as nourishing. I think green chile would be fabulous with some sour cream. Even roll it up and call it a taco. Just eat good food.

Oh, and make however many you need. Personally, one was filling for me, my cute man ate two and if you’re feeding that voracious teen, well you could be looking at an even dozen.

Fried Egg Tostadas

ingredients

  • TJ’s Corn and Wheat tortillas – I love the sturdiness that the flour adds to the corn.
  • Eggs
  • Roasted Tomato Salsa
  • Corn Salsa
  • Sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded
  • Avocado, cubed

method

  • Heat a skillet over medium high heat.
  • Top each tortilla with a slather of tomato salsa and cheddar cheese. Place tortilla in the heated skillet until it’s toasted and cheese has melted. Set aside, and repeat for desired amount of tostadas.
  • Fry eggs to desired doneness. My “done” level is hard. I want nothing to do with juicy eggs.
  • Top each tortilla with an egg, a couple spoons of corn salsa and avocado chunks.

Since I piled on the ingredients, a fork and knife were needed, but fingers could certainly become utensils with a quick taco-like fold.

Happy eating, my friends –

Missy

 

 

 

pumpkin this and that

pumpkin this and thatPumpkin this and that and everything else forges ahead. As previously, emphatically stated, I don’t do pumpkin drinks, but pumpkin in all sorts of other dishes is another story. Quite frankly, I’ve ended up with portions of leftover pumpkin. That happens when you bake muffins and the recipe only uses half of the can; hence, the need for resourceful, but fabulous ways to use up the orts.

At the market the refrigerated section holds assorted types of pre-made ravioli, one of which is butternut. I’ll fix and serve this with sage, browned butter and garlic – truly excellent. I had those lovelies in mind when this dinner plan came together.

Gnocchi with Pumpkin, Sage and Sausage

ingredients

  • 1 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 12 oz package chicken and herb sausage
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cups sliced Portobello mushrooms
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 16 oz package gnocchi
  • 2 generous sprigs fresh sage
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and fresh cracked pepper to taste
  • Olive oil

pumpkin this and thatmethod

  • Heat a large skillet over medium high heat, rim with olive oil. Cut sausages into 1 inch pieces, place in skillet, breaking up with the back of a wooden spoon. Brown well. Allow sausage to stick to the pan. The fond will become part of the sauce.
  • Mix in onion and allow to cook until soft and translucent.
  • Stir in mushrooms. They’ll begin to release their moisture. Use the liquid to start scraping up the brown bits in the pan. You’re building flavor from that fond.
  • Stir in pumpkin, mix well and cook for about a minute. Add stock, garlic, red pepper flakes and sage; mix well. Cover and simmer together for 20 minutes. Remove the lid and reduce sauce to a thick consistency, about another 5 minutes.
  • While sauce simmers, cook gnocchi in salted water according to package directions.
  • Drain gnocchi; combine with the pumpkin-sage sauce. Allow to meld together for a minute or two.

I served the gnocchi in wide bowls topped with shreds of fresh herbs just because it was pretty. Tossed greens with oil, vinegar and a pinch of salt perfected the meal.

Happy eating, my friends –

Missy

 

chanterelles, a wild harvest

chanterelles, a wild harvest“If you go out in the woods today you’re sure of a big surprise,” goes the vintage children’s song Teddy Bear’s Picnic by American composer John Bratton with lyrics by Irish songwriter Jimmy Kennedy. 

Ok, you and I probably aren’t going to meet up with bears or kids picnicking in the woods, but there are buttery fungi coloring the forest floor.

Seriously, friends, Chanterelle mushrooms literally start popping up from underneath hemlocks and Doug fir trees. There is a synergetic relationship between the fungi and the roots anchoring the woodland. Spores wait in secret earthy places until the fall rains rouse them from their slumber.

chanterelles, a wild harvest

I’d like to say I’m an expert wild-harvesting kinda girl, but alas that would be not true. And, in the case of picking mushrooms, it’s important to know what you’re doing.

There are many look-alikes out there that can have not fun tummy consequences. While Chanterelles are golden forest treasures this time of year, make sure you know what you’re doing or go with someone who does.  Hey, there’s always the guy parked on the side of the road selling Chanterelles, or the local market.

Whether gleaning or purchasing, look for golden, slime and decay-free fungi.  Chanterelles should have an aromatic fragrance reminiscent of savory apricots.  These babies have a pretty good shelf-life. They can be stored in a paper bag in the fridge for a week to 10 days. Mine usually don’t sit around that long.

chanterelles, a wild harvestLike other fungi, they will need to be cleaned.  Gently brush away the forest debris using a soft brush or a dry paper towel.  If they have too much dirt, carefully wash under cool running water and allow mushrooms to dry completely on a tea towel before cooking.

Chanterelles are adaptable blokes and can be subbed in any mushroom recipe. Still, I prefer them simple; lightly sautéed in butter with a sprinkle of salt. Come to think of it though, I do have a loaf of fresh baked bread (thanks to my daughter-in-law) that might be really nice toasted and topped with the sautéed mushrooms. Oh, the dilemma. I bet the bear’s picnic didn’t have this gastro-quandary.

Recipes to check out:

Happy eating, my friends –

Missy

 

 

 

 

tonight: clams with white beans and fennel

tonight clams with white beans and fennel

“I’m serving burrowing marine mollusks that live in the mud for dinner. What to come over?” If you received this text from me, you might politely (or not so politely laugh in my face) decline the invitation. Sounds kinda disgusting, I know.

There are heaps of “harvestable,” “gleanable” edibles living in unscrupulous places.

Last year I tried (emphasis on the tried) to go to an “Invasive Species” dinner. It sounded interesting and I do admit the thought of Nutria stew did kinda gross me out.

The event was a come and go format. We’d spent a little too much time paddling on the river – it was an amazing day and we got up close and personal with Willamette Falls. However, by the time we reached the Invasive Species gig, they were out of food. It was something about having been featured on OPB and mobs of people showing up. We did get free LED light bulbs; weird substitute for weird food.

clams with white beans and fennelAll the same, back to these burrowing bivalves, they’re clams, as you probably knew. And, I’m guessing you’d accept my dinner invite for clams with white beans and fennel. The heady redolence while this dish was cooking was beyond. Garlic and fennel being gently sautéed in a good amount of olive oil, only to be joined with the briny clams and creamy white beans.

Many recipes out there puree the beans into a sauce, which would be delightful. However, I chose to leave the beans as beans, picking up one or two at a time with each bite of clam and fennel. Heavenly!

Clams with White Beans and Fennel

Recipe inspired by Bon Appetit

ingredients

  • 2 cups cooked white beans, or canned white beans rinsed
  • ¼ cup olive oil, plus extra for drizzling
  • 1 fennel bulb, thinly sliced
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 sprigs rosemary
  • 1 lemon
  • Generous handful of parsley leaves
  • 2 lbs Littleneck clams, washed
  • ¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
  • Salt and pepper
  • ¼ cup white wine (optional)

method

  • Put beans in a medium bowl with a drizzle of oil; season with salt, pepper and crushed red pepper flakes. Set aside.
  • Cut the fennel bulb in half, remove and save the fronds. Thinly slice one half of the fennel bulb and place in a bowl with the fronds.
  • Rough chop remaining fennel, then mince the garlic.
  • Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add chopped fennel, garlic and rosemary. Cook, stirring often, until fennel is tender but still has some bite, 3 to 5 minutes.
  • Remove wide strips of zest from lemon with a vegetable peeler. Cut the lemon in half, pick out seeds. Coarsely chop parsley.
  • Add clams and lemon zest to the skillet, squeeze in juice from half a lemon, cover the skillet and cook until the clams start to open, 7 to 9 minutes. Remove clams as they open; discarding any that don’t.
  • Add seasoned beans to the skillet and gently stir to combine; add white wine (or water) and simmer to loosen the sauce. Return clams to the skillet, add half of parsley and toss well.
  • Combine the remaining parsley with reserved sliced fennel. Squeeze with the remaining lemon half and season fennel-parsley salad with salt and pepper, drizzling with a small amount of oil.

To serve place beans and clams in wide bowls and top with the fennel-parsley mix. We used crusty, toasted bread to soak up all of the juices.

Happy eating, my friends –

Missy

 

 

inky-purple prune plums

My family has a small farm in the lush Willamette Valley. Cows, pigs and chickens used to roam the fields and woods. A garden the size of a city block (or at least that’s how I remember it) produced enough to feed everyone and their neighbor. Now, the livestock consists of squirrels, deer and raccoons. The garden is a manageable size, which still yields enough to share with a local Mission. And, fruit trees dot the yard, sans the Italian prune-plum that met it’s demise years ago.

Our Willamette Valley home is graced with the same prune-plum tree of my kid infused memories. It was a sucker from the neighbor’s huge tree. I was told it’d never bear fruit. Twenty years later, the tree is loaded with inky-purple plums.

I no longer live at the house. It’s been a rental for the past 6 years. And, actually, last weekend we cleaned out the garage in preparation for a pending sale and new people to enjoy the fruit in the yard.

Before saying a fond farewell to my lovely tree, I picked some fruit which I ate out-of-hand and filled a small bag for the road.

You’ve probably seen these dusty looking, egg-shaped plums at the market. Gazing at them is like seeing an indigo sky scattered with stars. Open one up and golden yellow sunrise flesh is uncovered.

Also known as Empress Plums, these small plums are a dream. They’re not terribly sweet and do have a tart skin. However, when cooked, their flesh becomes jammy heaven that I’ve turned into crisps and tarts and sauce. Mostly, though, I’d walk to the backyard, stand under the tree so I could pick and eat until my heart was content.

My springtime longing is to plant one at my new home. Of course, it would be even better if it was an upstart from a neighbor’s yard.

Happy eating –

Missy