Chef Armstrong’s Chicken Casserole (aka President Obama Stew)

March 12, 2017

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So I know I’ve been all about my mate Theresa’s gorgeous debut cookbook: Fruit on the Table: Seasonal Recipes from the Green Apron Kitchen. And a lovely book it is. However, that is not to say that there aren’t other lovely cookbooks out there…and another one I’m all about is: My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve by Cathal Armstrong & David Hagedorn.

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I have not had the pleasure of meeting Chef Armstrong, but I am certainly a big fan. Chef Cathal Armstrong, originally from Dublin Ireland, has a culinary empire here in Northern Virginia  which includes Restaurant Eve, the Majestic Cafe, two branches of Eamonn’s – A Dublin Chipper, PX cocktail lounge and Society Fair a gourmet emporium and wine bar. He is an internationally recognized four-star chef and leader in the sustainable food movement which he attributes firmly to his Irish upbringing. Chef Armstrong has brought forth this cookbook which contains a collection of family recipes and Irish inspired dishes from Restaurant Eve. It is from this cookbook that I take this recipe for Chicken Casserole, which he fondly calls “President Obama Stew”. According to Chef Armstrong, it seems that on Saturday October 9th of 2011, while taking a little time off of work and preparing his mother’s chicken casserole for a family dinner, he received an unexpected call from his restaurant manager at Restaurant Eve. The Obamas were coming for dinner. And it wasn’t just any old dinner for them, that night they would be celebrating their nineteenth wedding anniversary. Well, needless to say, the family chicken casserole was forgotten as he rushed back in to the restaurant. The recipe I give you today is that casserole. Now I would definitely be a bit remiss if I told you that i wasn’t a little bit sorry that the Obamas didn’t dine on this casserole. Nevertheless, this is an amazing dish!

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Cooked low and slow, this chicken is so savory, so succulent and so all around spectacular it is definitely elevated from a mere casserole rating. Now I will admit, I did make a couple of wee changes. The Chef does call for the use of an entire cut up chicken. I did decide to go with solely chicken thighs – less choice but better for consistency in cooking. That being said, when I cook this again- oh and I will – I will use skinless boneless thighs and will remove the bones and shred the chicken once the casserole is cooked through. But to each his own. I also LOVE mushrooms and decided to throw in some portobello mushrooms. I hope the Chef will forgive my adaptations. I will tell you this casserole, or stew even, is brilliant all on its own – so savory, thick and hearty with just the right amount of spice (who would’ve known 20 cloves of garlic was just the right amount…) but it is absolutely amazing when served over mashed potatoes.

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A feast worthy of St. Patrick himself I tell you! I assure you folks will be over the moon if you serve up this feast on St. Patrick’s Day. Heck with the 20 cloves of garlic in this baby, you wouldn’t go wrong serving this up on Halloween – t’would definitely keep the vampires at bay! Though seriously, if you want to treat yourself to some amazing Irish recipes, beautiful photography and various cooking tips in general, invest in a copy of Chef Armstrong’s My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve.

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Chef Armstrong's Chicken Casserole (aka President Obama Stew)

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland & Restaurant Eve” by Cathal Armstrong & David Hagedorn

Ingredients:

  • 1 (3 1/2 pound ) chicken – cut into 14 pieces – (or….I just used 3 1/2 lbs of chicken thighs)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, very coarsely chopped
  • 6 carrots, peeled and cut crosswise into 1/2 inch coins
  • 6 celery stalks, halved lengthwise and cut into 1 – inch dice
  • 8 oz. portobello mushrooms, washed and sliced (*optional – my addition)
  • 20 cloves garlic, crushed and coarsely chopped (yup…not a misprint….20!)
  • 1 (28 oz) can whole plum tomatoes (preferably San Marzano), coarsely chopped, and their juices
  • 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 3 large fresh bay leaves
  • 1 serrano chile, coarsely chopped, with seeds
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 2 Tablespoons chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary leaves
  • Leaves from 1 large bunch fresh bails (1 cup loosely packed) coarsely chopped.

Directions:

If the chicken you purchase is not already cut up into pieces, then cut your chicken in 14 pieces, making 6 breast pieces, 2 drumsticks, 2 thighs and 4 wing joints. (Or just use a big old package of thighs – this is per me-not Chef Armstrong). Season them well with salt.

Brown the chicken in a large pan over high heat. Arrange all of the chicken evenly in the pan skin-side down and cook for 5 minutes, until golden brown. The pieces should release easily from the bottom of the pan; if they don’t , let them brown longer until they don Transfer the pieces to a flameproof casserole, arranging them skin side up. ( I used my largest Le Creuset dutch oven.)

Add the onion, carrots, celery and mushrooms (if you are adding them) to the sauté pan, stirring to combine them. Sweat the vegetables for 4 to 5 minutes until they are translucent but still bit firm. As they cook and water releases from them, use a flat edged wooden spatula to deglaze the pan by scraping up the brown bits from the bottom. Stir in the garlic (seriously…don’t be scared- use all 20 cloves – the stew will taste amazing and somehow not over garlic-y) and then the tomatoes and flour and cook for 2 minutes. Add the bay leaves, serrano chile, chicken stock, thyme and rosemary.

Transfer the vegetable mixture to the casserole. Bring to a boil then decrease the heat to low, cover the pot, and let it simmer slowly for 45 to 60 minutes, until the chicken and vegetables are very tender. Remove the stew from he heat. Taste the sauce and season with salt and pepper if you like. (Truth be told – here is where I would recommend removing the chicken pieces from the stew. Shred the chicken meat from the bones and stir the meat back into the stew mixture.) Stir in the basil leaves at the last second before driving. The stew can be made a day before and gently reheated on the stove or in a 300°F oven for 30 to 40 minutes.

I have served this chicken casserole all on its own or over mashed potatoes and I gotta say – Mashed Potatoes are the way to go. I am sure it would also be good over rice, but again go with the Mashed Potatoes for the win!

Enjoy!

Chef Armstrong’s Chicken Casserole brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links for Helpful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Chef Armstrong’s Chicken Casserole (aka President Obama Stew):

My Irish Table: Recipes from the Homeland and Restaurant Eve by Cathal Armstrong & David Hagedorn

Le Creuset Enameled Cast Iron Oval Dutch oven – 8 quart

Oxo Good Grips Stainless Steel Potato Ricer – The key to perfect unbelievably creamy – dare I say dreamy – mashed potatoes every single time. Well, this and a good amount of butter and cream…

 


Holiday Leftover Pies!

November 28, 2016

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Who out there has leftovers? I bet one or two of you do if your Thanksgiving feasts looked anything like ours did. Well boy oh boy do I have an awesome recipe for you today… Holiday Leftover Pies! Now I will admit, this might be a bit of a replay on my part, but I got the idea from those delicious Pirozhki’s that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago. Pirozhkis are little Russian yeast buns which have been stuffed with ground beef, leeks and cheddar. Quite yummy as you can imagine. So I was thinking about them. Well, them and the fact that the Husband loves the day-after Thanksgiving sandwich. You know – the Thanksgiving dinner -turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy – squished between two slices of bread. Yeah, well he loves it…quite possibly more than he likes the original Thanksgiving Day feast. So, combining the two thoughts, I stuffed these little Thanksgiving Pirozhkis with leftover turkey and all the trimmings, baked ’em up and let me tell you…They were Awesome! Dare I say even better than the sandwich version.

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And the fact that you are working with a filling that has spent at least one day in the fridge is a big benefit as well. I mean cutting off a slice of gravy to add to the filling rather than working with a hot liquid version when stuffing dough is a far superior experience. Just take a few moments to dice up any meat into bite sized cubes and the rest is easy-peasy. The total amount of filling, whatever leftovers you might have on hand, should be about 2 – 2 1/2 Tablespoons per bun. And I will say that when you pinch the folded over dough together to seal the bun, don’t hold back! Give it quite a pinch or use a fork like you would in making a pie crust to ensure that the bun edges stick together and don’t pop open in the oven. But if they do, no worries. I assure you, it won’t effect the taste one little bit!

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These Day-After Leftover Pies will be a tradition after every holiday feast from this day forward, I can assure you. We’re already thinking ahead to Christmas when we’ll have leftover prime rib, mushrooms, mashed potatoes and gravy. Drool, drool, drool! So I just had to share this with everyone. If you’ve already gobbled down all your Thanksgiving leftovers, keep these in mind for Christmas. You, and whomever you decide to share with, will be delighted!

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Holiday Leftover Pies

  • Servings: 16 pies
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Holiday Leftover Pie dough recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 4 cups (17 oz /482 grams) All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./28 grams) Vermont Cheese Powder (don’t have cheese powder? you can substitute grated parmesan or leave it out altogether.)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz./113grams) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2 oz./57grams) soft unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz./113grams) warm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (7/8 oz./25grams) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

For the filling:

  • Whatever leftovers you have, such as: diced turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy & cranberry sauce

Directions:

To make the dough: Combine all the dough ingredients and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until a soft, smooth dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow to rest for about 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.

Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces; if you have a scale they’ll weigh about 2 ounces each. 

Shape the pieces into balls, and place them on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch between them. 

Cover the dough balls, and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes.

Ready your leftovers. Don’t reheat them, leave them cold. They will be much easier to work with.Chop any large pieces of meat into a smaller dice.

Shape each ball into a flattened round about 5″ in diameter, brush the surface with some of the egg/water wash, and place 2 tablespoons of filling onto the center of each round. 

Pull the dough over the filling, pinching two opposite edges together tightly, to seal in the filling; it should look like a dumpling. 

Place the buns on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover the buns, and allow them to rise for 1 hour, or until puffy.

Towards the end of the rising time preheat the oven to 400°F.

Brush the buns with the remaining egg wash. Bake the buns for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. It’s OK if some of the seams have come undone and the filling is visible; they can be prettier that way!

Remove the buns from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Store any leftover buns in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Holiday Leftover Pies brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Useful Links for Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Holiday Leftover Pies:

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Norpro 2 Tablespoon Cookie Scoop

SAF Instant Yeast

Vermont Cheese Powder

 


Stuffed Buns (Pirozhki)

November 15, 2016

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Look what I’ve got here…little yeast buns stuffed with ground beef, leeks and cheddar! YUM! Comfort food at its best! Known as Pirozhki in their native Russia, which actually means “small pie”, these savory, individual sized pies will soon be found in high rotation in your meal plans.

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We fell head over heels for them straight away. I mean what’s not to love? There’s a soft pillowy dough which encircles a savory blend of meat and cheese – Oh yes! Count me in.

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Exceedingly portable, these buns are not only delicious hot from the oven, but are also fabulous at room temperature and may have single-handedly saved us on a particularly rainy camping weekend. They are very versatile, so if ground beef and cheddar isn’t your thing, you could try a meatless option with sautéed onions, cabbage and chopped hardboiled eggs. And don’t forget, Thanksgiving is coming up soon. That means leftovers. A post-holiday Pirozhki with chopped turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy and cranberry sauce is very likely to make an appearance in my house. I’ll let you know how it goes, but in the meantime, give these Stuffed Buns a try!

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Stuffed Buns (Pirozhki)

  • Servings: 16 Buns
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: King Arthur Flour

Ingredients:

For the Dough:

  • 4 cups (17 oz /482 grams) All Purpose Flour
  • 1/4 cup (1 oz./28 grams) Vermont Cheese Powder (don’t have cheese powder? you can substitute grated parmesan or leave it out altogether.)
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz./113grams) sour cream
  • 1/4 cup (4 tablespoons, 2 oz./57grams) soft unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz./113grams) warm water
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons (7/8 oz./25grams) sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 2 teaspoons instant yeast

For the Filling:

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable or olive oil
  • 1 small peeled onion or shallot, finely diced; about 3/4 cup (3 1/2 oz./14 grams) (loving leeks as we do, I went with leeks)
  • 1 clove garlic, finely chopped
  • 8 ounces (227 grams) ground beef
  • salt and pepper, to taste
  • chopped parsley, fresh or dried, to taste
  • 1 1/2 cups (6 oz./170grams) shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 large egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water, to brush on dough

Directions:

To make the dough: Combine all the dough ingredients and mix and knead — by hand, mixer, or bread machine — until a soft, smooth dough forms.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased bowl, cover, and allow to rest for about 90 minutes, until puffy but not necessarily doubled in bulk.

To make the filling: Heat the oil in a sauté pan set over medium heat. 

Add the onion and cook until translucent. 

Add the garlic and ground beef and cook for 5 to 10 minutes, breaking the meat up as it browns, until it’s cooked through. 

Season the filling with salt, pepper, and parsley, remove it from the heat, and cool to room temperature. 

Stir in the cheese. The filling can be made ahead of time, then wrapped and stored in the refrigerator until ready to use.

Divide the dough into 16 equal pieces; if you have a scale they’ll weigh about 2 ounces each. 

Shape the pieces into balls, and place them on lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets, leaving about an inch between them. 

Cover the dough balls, and allow them to rest for about 15 minutes.

Shape each ball into a flattened round about 5″ in diameter, brush the surface with some of the egg/water wash, and place 2 tablespoons of filling onto the center of each round. 

Pull the dough over the filling, pinching two opposite edges together tightly, to seal in the filling; it should look like a dumpling. 

Place the buns on two lightly greased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Cover the buns, and allow them to rise for 1 hour, or until puffy.

Towards the end of the rising time preheat the oven to 400°F.

Brush the buns with the remaining egg wash. Bake the buns for 15 to 20 minutes, until golden brown. It’s OK if some of the seams have come undone and the filling is visible; they can be prettier that way!

Remove the buns from the oven and allow them to cool for 5 to 10 minutes before serving.

Store any leftover buns in the refrigerator.

Enjoy!

Pirozhki brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Stuffed Buns (Pirozhki):

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

6 Quart Dough Rising Bucket

Norpro 2 Tablespoon Cookie Scoop

SAF Instant Yeast

Vermont Cheese Powder

 


Spicy Italian Lentil Loaf Cupcakes

November 11, 2016

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Yay! We’ve finally started getting some Fall type weather. I know a lot of folks have been digging that extended summer kind of thing that we’ve had going on, but I’m ready for some colder temperatures. And as that mercury falls, I’ve got a great comfort food recipe to share with you today: Spicy Italian Lentil Loaf Cupcakes! Yum, yum, yum! This delicious Meatless Monday favorite of ours will be loved by vegetarians and carnivores alike, I guarantee.  And you did hear me right – there is not one shred of meat in this dish – it is a vegetarian meatloaf. But that doesn’t mean it is lacking in taste. I do promise, you will not miss the meat one little bit once you take a bite of these savory little gems.

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This recipe is so versatile. You can bake it in cupcake tins or if you prefer in a loaf pan for a more traditional meatloaf appearance. I prefer the cupcake tins because of the cute factor. Kids will certainly find them more appealing and will have no idea how many veggies they are scarfing down. The cupcake version also has portability and ease going for it. Having a single serving all ready to go, no fooling around with trying to cut even slices in a loaf works out great for me. But really we love these little cupcake shapes because of the extra crunchy edges you get from baking them in cupcake tins.

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You can also prepare these cupcakes with or without the mashed potato “frosting”. Kids will definitely prefer the potatoes piped onto the top so that it actually looks more cupcake like. When I make this dish though, I usually prepare them “naked” topped only with the arrabiata sauce, fresh mozzarella and basil. I serve the mashed potatoes on the side. These cupcakes are fantastic warm from the oven, but I’ve also enjoyed them the next day cold right out of the fridge. They are high in protein and fiber. I’m telling you, you can not go wrong with this recipe!

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Spicy Italian Lentil Loaf Cupcakes

  • Servings: 20 cupcakes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe inspired by: Really Good Vegetarian Meatloaf (Really!)

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups vegetable broth or water
  • 1 cup lentils
  • 2 leeks, sliced – white and light green parts only
  • 8 oz. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup quick cooking oats
  • 3/4 cup grated mozzerella cheese
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 6 ounces of spaghetti sauce + a bit more for spooning over the top (we use a spicy arrabiatta sauce)
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 handful fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon Worchestershire sauce
  • 1/4 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we love spicy food – but if you don’t feel free to leave this out)
  • 1/2 teaspoon Spanish smoked paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 20 slices fresh mozzarella
  • Mashed potatoes for “frosting” if desired
  • Fresh Chives & Basil for garnish

Directions:

Place 2 cups broth or water in saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the lentils and cook at a simmer, covered, for about 25 – 30 minutes, or until the lentils are soft.

In the meantime, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in a pan and sauté the mushrooms and leeks until they are fragrant and softened. Set aside to cool.

Drain any remaining liquid from the lentils. Mash approximately half of the lentils. Place them into a large mixing bowl and allow them to cool.

Preheat oven to 350° F. Generously spray two muffin tins with non-stick cooking spray. *If you would rather bake this as a traditional meatloaf, generously grease a loaf pan. You will also likely need to adjust your baking time to 40 -45 minutes.

Once lentils have cooled, add the leek/mushroom mixture, oats, and cheeses to the lentils and stir to combine.

Add the eggs, sauce,garlic powder, basil, Worcestershire sauce, peppers, paprika and salt to the bowl and stir until combined.

Fill prepared muffin tins 3/4 of the way full with lentil mixture.

Bake for 30 – 35 minutes.

If you wish to have mashed potato “frosting” for the cupcakes. Go ahead and make the mashed potatoes while the cupcakes are baking.

After 30 -35 minutes, remove the pans and add a teaspoon full of spaghetti sauce to the top of each cupcake, as well as a spice of fresh mozzarella.

Bake until mozzarella is melted.

Remove from oven and allow cupcakes to cool in the pan on a rack for about 10 minutes.

Run a knife around the edges of pan to loosen the cakes and then carefully remove from the tins.

Pipe mashed potato frosting onto the cupcakes if you desire and decorate with chive sprinkles. Or if foregoing the frosting, garnish “naked” cupcakes with freshly chopped basil.

Enjoy!

Spicy Italian Lentil Loaf Cupcakes brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 

 

 


Zucchini, Pancetta & Cheddar Frittata

September 27, 2016

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Anybody else still have zucchini hanging around their kitchen? I’m so happy to say we do. The husband and I are way into zucchini these days. Can’t get enough of the stuff. It not only tastes fantastic all on its own, but it also seems to magically enhance any recipe you add it to, like that Zucchini Banana Bread I told you about a couple of weeks ago. The addition of that wonderful summer squash made what was already really good banana bread into absolutely amazing banana bread. So when I came across the recipe for a Zucchini & Cheddar Frittata on Once Upon a Chef‘s blog, I just couldn’t wait to make it.

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Frittatas are just a perfect meal in my house. They’re great because they work for breakfast, lunch or dinner. And lucky for me, the husband is a big fan of the whole “breakfast for dinner” concept. I don’t think he has ever met an egg dish he didn’t like and is happy to eat them anytime of day. So frittatas are perfect. They are also wonderfully versatile and are a great way to use up any leftovers you might have on hand. In fact, I did customize the original recipe a bit. I added leeks to it because we love them nearly as much as zucchini. I also decided to add some crispy pancetta. And I must say I quite pleased with the results! This frittata was so delicate, creamy and delicious! It was great warm from the oven and also delicious cold from the fridge the following day. It was really quick and easy to make. I was able to have this tasty summer supper on the table in a little over 30 minutes. Huge win in my book!

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Zucchini Pancetta & Cheddar Frittata

  • Servings: 2 - 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe slightly adapted from: Once Upon a Chef

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 pound (12 oz) zucchini (about 2 small zucchini -try to use small zucchini as they contain less water)
  • 4 oz. pancetta, chopped*
  • 2 leeks, washed and cut into rings – white & light green bits only**
  • 3/4 teaspoon salt, divided
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 3 ounces (about 1 cup) grated Cheddar cheese

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Using a food processor or box grater, grate the zucchini. Place the grated zucchini on top of several layers of paper towels and wring dry. If necessary, repeat 1-2 times to remove any excess moisture.

In an 8 or 10-inch ovenproof, nonstick sauté pan, over medium heat, cook the pancetta until crispy and set aside on paper towels to cool. Drain all but 2 tablespoons of the grease from the pan. Add the leeks, zucchini and 1/2 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring occasionally, until the moisture evaporates and the zucchini is tender, 6-7 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt and pepper.

Add the crispy pancetta, cooked zucchini and grated cheese to the egg mixture and stir to combine. Pour the frittata mixture into the pan (no need to wash it), then place in the oven and bake until just set, 20-23 minutes.

Enjoy!

*Don’t have any pancetta? Substitute bacon – everybody loves bacon! Or just leave it out altogether for Meatless Monday.

**The husband and I are mad for leeks, but if they aren’t really your thing you can substitute in 1/4 cup finely chopped shallots, from 1 – 2 shallots.

Zucchini Pancetta & Cheddar Frittata brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

February 23, 2016

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I thought Spring had sprung over the weekend! Yup…the mercury shot on up to 61°F! Balmy I tell you. But alas, I understand that it was just a tease and the cold/wet Wintry weather is headed back in our direction. Good thing I have this spicy, oh so flavorful Chicken Tortilla Soup on hand to warm me up. The zesty broth is simply chock full of tender chicken as well as a  savory veggie and black bean blend. It imparts all those “feel good” vibes that the old classic Chicken Noodle Soup does, yet it does it with a kick! And this soup is not only delicious, but it is also really easy to make. I’m telling you, all you do is put all of the ingredients into your slow cooker, turn it on and then just walk away. No fuss, no worries. And when you return (7 hours later for my part, though you can cook this soup on the high setting and it will be done in 3 -4 hours) you just shred the chicken breasts and stir the meat back into the soup. At that point, while that shredded meat is settling in, you just do a little prep to get all of your toppings ready to go. And I must say, do not skimp on your toppings. I mean this soup is indeed tasty served “au naturale” but I can assure you, there is no way that I will pass up an opportunity to add gooey cheese, chunks of avocado, sour cream and fresh cilantro to pretty much any meal! Yeah, toppings are not really “optional” for me, but to each his own.

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As for the tortillas, the Husband and I just came across Tostitos Rolls, which are the Tostitos tortilla chips, rolled into little cylinders. Crumble them over the top or simply enjoy them as a side, they are fantastic with this soup! So if Winter has got you down and you’re a bit short on time (and/ or kitchen motivation), make up a big batch of this Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup. Folks will be glad you did!

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Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup

  • Servings: 6 -8
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Recipe slightly adapted from: Gimme Some Oven

Ingredients:

  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (about 1 pound)
  • 4 cups good-quality chicken stock
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (10-ounce) cans Rotel Diced tomatoes, with juice (we used the Hot variety diced with Habanero)
  • 1 (15-ounce) can whole-kernel corn, drained
  • 1 (4-ounce) can diced green chiles
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1-2 dried arbol chilis
  • 1 white onion, peeled and diced
  • 2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon salt, or more/less to taste
  • fresh lime wedges
  • optional toppings: chopped fresh cilantro, diced avocado, fresh chives, diced red onion, shredded cheese, sour cream, tortilla strips/chips/rolls

Directions:

Add all of the above listed ingredients to a slow cooker, and stir to combine. Cook for 3-4 hours on high heat or 6-8 hours on low heat, until the chicken is cooked through and shreds easily. Remove chicken breasts from soup. Use two forks to shred the chicken and then add back to the soup. Remove the chilis, and discard.

Serve warm with a squeeze of fresh lime juice, and topped with optional toppings if desired (Don’t be silly….of course you want the toppings!).

You can refrigerate this soup in a sealed container for up to 4 days. Or freeze it for up to 3 months.

Enjoy!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup:

Crock-Pot Slow Cooker

Kuhn Rikon Avocado Knife

Rotel Diced Tomatoes – This link is for 4 cans, enough for two batches of this soup

Chile de Arbol

Tostitos Rolls – We thought these rolled tortilla chips were great with this soup!

 


Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup

February 9, 2016

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So I know good ole Punxsutawney Phil has declared that Winter is on the way out and Spring is right around the corner. However, Spring hasn’t yet stepped out in this neck of the woods. It has been damp, cold and really pretty dreary recently. In fact, today it is actually snowing. Soup weather without a doubt and I have a great recipe for a soup which is not only flavorful and warming, but also pretty fun as well – Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup. This is definitely one of the Husband’s favorite soups. He LOVES meatball anything…cocktail meatballs, meatball subs, spaghetti & meatballs and on the rare occasion that we have ventured into an IKEA, you can rest assured that you’ll find him in the cafeteria sampling those Swedish Meatballs. So when I came across this recipe, I knew it would be a winner with him. This soup features mini meatballs which are chock full of Moroccan spices and Israeli Couscous in a chicken broth base. The meatballs are baked prior to going into the soup which helps them retain their shape. I prefer ground beef for my meatballs, though the original recipe calls for lamb. So if you are a fan of lamb, feel free to go with the original recipe. Either way, these Moroccan spiced meatballs are quite tasty!

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The Israeli Couscous adds a wonderful nutty flavor as well as a lovely texture to the soup. If you’ve never tried Israeli Couscous before, now is the time! It is really delicious. Similar to Moroccan couscous, this toasted pasta is much bigger and is shaped like little balls. This couscous works perfectly in soups because it retains its shape well and tends to not clump together. Though I will say, this soup does thicken if you have leftovers saved in the fridge. Before reheating, just add few glugs of chicken broth to it and it will be good as new! Quick and easy to make, you’ll have this soup on the table in no time flat. Serve it up with a big loaf of rustic, crusty bread and this comforting soup will make you forget all about the crappy weather outside. And don’t despair, I have great faith that our beloved weather predicting rodent was correct…Spring is on the way!

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Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup

  • Servings: 4 - 6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

recipe from: Williams Sonoma

Ingredients:

For the Meatballs:

  • 1 tsp. ground coriander
  • 1 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/4 tsp. curry powder
  • 1/4 tsp. dried oregano
  • the leaves from 4 -5 fresh sprigs of thyme (leaves only – no stems! You can substitute 1/4 tsp. dried thyme, but I think the fresh thyme is better if you have it.)
  • 1/8 tsp. dry mustard
  • 1/8 tsp. chili powder
  • Pinch of ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 lb. (500 g) ground beef (can substitute lamb in if you want to be a tad more authentic)
  • 2 Tablespoons tomato paste

For the soup:

  • 1 1/4 cups (10 fl. oz./310 ml) water
  • 1 cup (6 oz./185 g) Israeli couscous
  • 3 Tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml) chicken broth
  • 1/4 tsp. cayenne pepper (optional – but we like it spicy!)
  • 1 Tablespoon chopped fresh mint (I do not actually use the mint when I make this dish)
  • Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste

Directions:

To make the meatballs, preheat an oven to 375°F (190°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a bowl, combine the coriander, cumin, curry powder, oregano, thyme, mustard, chili powder, cinnamon and salt. Add the ground beef and tomato paste. Using your hands, mix gently but thoroughly. For each meatball, scoop up 1 tsp. of the mixture. I use a small cookie scoop to do this. It makes it a bit easier and all of your meatballs are similar in size. You should end up with around 40 meatballs. Place on the prepared baking sheet. Bake until the meatballs are cooked through, about 10 minutes.

In a small saucepan over high heat, bring the water to a boil. Add the couscous, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until all the liquid is absorbed, 8 to 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a large, heavy pot over medium-high heat, warm the olive oil. Add the shallots and garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1 minute. Add the broth and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, add the meatballs and couscous and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the cayenne pepper. Remove from the heat. Stir in the mint (If you are using it) and season with salt and pepper. Ladle the soup into warmed bowls and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Moroccan Meatball & Couscous Soup

OXO Good Grips Small Cookie Scoop

Chef’n Zipstrip Herb Stripper – Fantastic tool for stripping herb leaves from their woody stems!

Le Creuset Signature Enameled Cast Iron 5 1/2 quart Dutch Oven

Israeli Couscous, Tri-Color – This link is for the tri-color couscous. Of course you do not have to use tri-color, you can use regular or even whole wheat if you wish. I just like the look of the tri-color style.


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