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Everyday Dinners

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup

November 27, 2021

Note: This is a repost from last year because this soup is my favorite way to use up turkey after Thanksgiving. The broth is so good if you make it from your turkey carcass, but if you don’t have it don’t let that stop you. This is the ultimate healthy comfort food. 

I didn’t intend for this to be a blog post. This dish started as me just using up the turkey carcasses we froze after Thanksgiving.

But then I tasted it.

As usual with home cooking, simple ingredients, slow cooked, with flavor make the best best dishes. And this soup was SO delicious I had to share it. So here we are. If you don’t have a turkey carcass left over, consider just making this with chicken. It is that good you can’t wait until next year.

I made a huge pot of Turkey stock yesterday in our lobster pot and cooked for 3+ hours. If you have never made stock, check out my post here.

While it simmered, I cleaned out the fridge and tackled organizing projects in the kitchen. So basically, a clean fridge plus a delicious soup with crusty bread on a cold rainy day = the perfect evening. Plus making stock is so great for using up all those veggies in the veggie drawer that have seen better days.

Sometimes it can be hard to sell my family on soup for dinner, but everyone took a bite of this and raved. It is totally thanks to the delicious broth that adds so much depth of flavor, plus the comforting, stick to your ribs feeling from the creaminess of the butter and milk and cream.

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I hope you still have a turkey carcass you can use up! If not, just pull this post up next year. You’ll be so glad you did!

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Creamy Turkey and Wild Rice Soup (find printer version here):

Ingredients
  • 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice blend*
  • 1 small yellow onion , chopped
  • 2 medium carrots , diced
  • 2 ribs celery , diced
  • 6 Tablespoons butter , divided
  • 1 clove garlic , minced
  • 4 1/2 cups turkey (or chicken) broth
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried marjoram
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried sage
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried rosemary
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper , to taste
  • 1 1/2 pounds turkey meat, diced (can substitute chicken breasts, see step 5)
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy whipping cream (or half & half)
Instructions
  1. Prepare rice according to package instructions.
  2. Melt 1 Tbsp butter in a large soup pot over medium heat.

  3. Add onion, carrots and celery and sauté until slightly tender. Add the garlic and sauté for 30 seconds.

  4. Stir in the broth, thyme, marjoram, sage, rosemary and season with salt and pepper to taste.

  5. *If using chicken breasts, add and bring mixture to a boil. Cover the pot with a lid and allow mixture to boil for 10-12 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through, then remove chicken to a cutting board to rest for 5 minutes.. If using pre-cooked turkey, skip to next step.
  6. Reduce the heat to low and add turkey meat (or chicken meat) and cooked rice to the soup.

  7. In a separate medium saucepan melt remaining 5 Tbsp butter over medium heat.

  8. Add flour and whisk constantly for 1-2 minutes. Slowly add the milk, whisking vigorously, and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture begins to thicken.

  9. Add this mixture to the soup pot and cook for 5 more minutes. Stir in heavy cream or half & half. Serve warm.

Adapted from Tastes Better From Scratch’s Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Cream of Mushroom Soup

November 12, 2021

When I was little, I loved Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup. Pouring the thick white base with lines from the can still formed onto its sides that was studded with chewy mushrooms.  Adding the milk, and whisking until they were sort of combined, bumps were fine. It was heaven.

To an eight year old.

As a grown up, it’s pretty gross.

The good news is that it is very quick and easy to make a cream of mushroom soup from scratch that is filled with the creamy umami goodness that it’s canned cousin slightly possesses.

You start with browning a mix of cremini and shiitake mushrooms, and after reserving a cupful for later, you add the aromatics of shallots and garlic…

Then you add the dried tarragon, which goes so well with mushrooms I pretty much add it whenever I am cooking with them.

Then add broth, simmer for 10 minutes…

At this point you have some options that are all based on personal preferences. You could eat it like this, or to have a bit more of a refined soup, you can insert your immersion blender and go. Some people like to completely blend the soup so it is a thick, creamy base with the reserved mushrooms added back in. But I guess as a nod to my Campbell’s soup days, I like little chewy bits of mushrooms in my soup.

So I like to process it until it is chunky, not creamy.

This is the perfect dish to serve to guests who may be visiting for Thanksgiving, or to have a steamy bowl set at each place setting to set the meal off. If you want to get really fancy, you could thicken it a little (find out ways to thicken sauces here, my favorite is to mix a little flour and butter together to make a roux) and use this as a base for your green bean casserole, which is one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes. Or just make it on a rainy Friday in November like today.

It’s the perfect recipe for when you walk by beautiful mushrooms in your grocery, and it only takes a few more minutes then the stuff from a can. But your inner child will still love the stick-to-your-ribs comfort food feeling you get. I promise.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Ingredients: 

  • 4 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups mushrooms – a mix of cremini (or button) and shiitake mushrooms, cleaned, roughly chopped or sliced 1/8-inch thick
  • 4 shallots, minced (about 3/4 -1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced (3 teaspoons)
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried tarragon
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (more or less to taste)
  • 1 tsp. fresh parsley, chopped

Directions:

In a large heavy bottomed pot, heat oil on medium heat. When hot, add butter, and once it has melted add the mushrooms, tossing to coat in the butter and oil. Season with a pinch of salt. Cook until mushrooms are lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Remove one cup of the mushrooms to add back in later.

Add shallots and garlic to pot, and cook while stirring for 1 minute. Add the tsp. salt, tarragon, and stock and bring to a simmer. Cook uncovered for 10 minutes, then remove from heat.

Once soup has cooled a bit, use an immersion blender to puree the soup. (You can also use a standing blender, but I like my soup with chunks rather than totally smooth, so I prefer the immersion blender.) Once it is your desired level of thickness, stir in cream, pepper and add extra mushrooms and parsley to the pot. Taste and check for seasonings and serve.

 

 

Smokey Croque Monsieur

September 15, 2021

Last week I took out the last of our cheese bread from Riley’s Market that I bought on our last trip to Pemaquid. This bread is legendary. It is the perfect combination of fluffy white bread that is almost like challah or brioche, and it gets craggy (is that a word?) when you cut into it, and when the little craggy bits sticking out get toasted they yield the perfect crunchy bite with the softness of the doughy bread. On top of that, there is sharp cheddar cheese swirled throughout the bread. The little spots melt a bit when they are toasted, and well you all know how good melted cheese is. I might just have to work on a recipe for this bread. In the mean time, I thought about what I could do with this beauty.

One of my favorite things to do with challah is to make french toast (especially with egg nog at the holidays – my husbands favorite breakfast!) so I thought about making a savory french toast which led to croque monsieurs.

I wanted to put a twist on it, and when I saw smoked gruyere at the store, I knew it would match so well with smokey ham.

Guess what?

It really did. These were delicious – I know all croque monsieurs are, with their wonderful mix of textures and creaminess and toasted bread and you can’t go wrong with the original. But these had their own character and made me think this would also be delicious with smoked gouda or any smoked cheese, and those might even be easier to find, so don’t hesitate if you go that route.

These sandwiches are very easy to make, with a basic béchamel sauce the only ‘cooking’ necessary. It comes together so easily, and the melted cheese in it just adds to the smokey creaminess.

It is just basic assembly after that, and it is one of those dishes that is very simple but the combination makes something magical. The hit from the Dijon mustard is also the best kick and makes these mouthwatering.

Don’t worry if you can’t find cheese bread – these ingredients will be delicious with any white bread. And there will be plenty of cheese either way.

This hot and gooey sandwich came out of the oven and my family was hovering around it, waiting to dive in. It is easy enough for a weeknight dinner but fancy enough for a special meal too. They are great for parties with tiny bread or cut into fourths.

I hope you try these and love them! Or put your own spin on it – use smoked turkey, or add your favorite veg like spinach or kimchi so that it feels like a reuben. Or just stick with the classic which is classic for a reason.

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

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Smokey Croque Monsieur

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

2 cups hot milk

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Pinch nutmeg

12 ounces Smoked Gruyere or Smoked Gouda, grated (5 cups)

(Note: the original calls for ½ cup parmesan but I omitted to keep it smoked)

16 slices white sandwich bread

Dijon mustard

8 ounces baked or black forest ham, sliced but not paper thin

Directions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter/flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated smoked Gruyere. (Note: if making the original add the ½ cup parmesan).
  3. To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
  4. Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

 

 

Chicken Schwarma

September 26, 2019

Ok, this post has been at the top of my  list of ‘things I have to make for the food blog’ since the spring. That’s because in the spring I had to drive past this amazing middle eastern cafe called Habibi in Portsmouth to take my kids to their LaCrosse practices and games all the time.  And after just. one. taste. of their chicken schwarma wrap, I couldn’t get enough. And then I let my kids order it and they couldn’t get enough. And then I’ll be chatting with my friends or at a party, and someone will bring up Habibi. And inevitably the conversation goes to ‘have you tried the chicken schwarma?!’ ‘Oh my gosh, its so good!’

You get the idea. It’s addictive. Chicken schwarma is like a pillow of flavor…a flavor bomb cloud…a pocket full of chewy aromatic creamy tangy flavors that just hit every taste bud.

But don’t take my word for it. It’s really easy to make too.

I may have stalked asked the owner who is a LOVELY woman how she makes it. And she told me the key is to marinate it in the seasonings, lemon, garlic and Greek yogurt OVERNIGHT. There are all kinds of schwarma recipes online that don’t use greek yogurt in the marinade or they say ‘2 hours’ and if you’re between not having the schwarma or having it marinated only 2 hours, fine, go for it. But really do your self a solid and just make it while your making dinner one night and it will be ready for lunch/after school/dinner the next day.

Also, in my experience the lettuce can vary, the tomatoes be sliced cherry or diced, but you are really going to want to add some sliced onions to the marinade and toss them in those flavors before you cook the chicken.

And you are really going to want some of the creamy garlic sauce. A store bought pita warmed is a totally yummy flavor vehicle, but if you want to find a homemade recipe I really want to try this one.

This recipe is great for crowds and is really cost effective IF you already have a pretty well stocked spice cabinet. Pro Tip: I actually keep all my middle eastern spices on one shelf and my regular spices on another so its easy to pull together something like this or a curry.

If you don’t it is worth it to invest in all of these spices since they the backbone of every curry recipe. If you can’t find ground cardamom I listed it as optional because this recipe has a TON of flavor and its the one that isn’t as essential. The cumin, coriander,  turmeric and paprika are all pretty important, and the cayenne just adds heat – if you are making it for kids you can leave it out too. If you love heat, go ahead and add a whole teaspoon.

So next time you’re at the store don’t forget to get a few pounds of chicken thighs, pitas and some Greek yogurt and veggies. And then throw it together and forget about it. And then…

Prepare to fall in love.

 

Happy Eating! xoxo Katie

Chicken Schwarma:

INGREDIENTS:

1-2 lbs. boneless, skinless chicken thighs
2 cloves garlic minced
1 T cumin
1 T ground coriander
1 T ground cardamom (optional)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp turmeric
2 tsp paprika
2 tsp salt
Pepper
2 T lemon juice
3 T olive oil
1 cup Greek yogurt

FOR YOGURT SAUCE:
1/2 c. Greek yogurt

Juice of 1 lemon

2 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
cloves garlic, smashed and minced

Kosher salt

FOR SERVING:

Pitas (warmed)

Mixed greens, chopped romaine, or shredded iceberg lettuce

Cherry tomatoes, halved

Sliced Cucumber

DIRECTIONS:
  1. In a large bowl, whisk together garlic, seasonings, lemon juice, olive oil and greek yogurt. Add chicken and toss to coat. Cover or transfer to a ziplock back and refrigerate overnight, or even better up to 24 hours.
  2. Preheat oven to 425° and grease a large baking sheet with oil or cooking spray. Add onion to marinade and toss to coat. Remove chicken and onion from marinade and place on prepared baking sheet. Bake until chicken is golden and cooked through, 25-30 minutes. Let chicken rest on cutting board for 5 minutes, then thinly slice.
  3. Meanwhile, make yogurt sauce: In a small bowl, whisk together yogurt, lemon juice, oil, and garlic. Season with salt and a pinch of red pepper flakes. To serve as a pita, top warmed pitas with chicken, onion, lettuce, tomatoes, cucumber, and yogurt sauce.

 

Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps

September 4, 2019

You know when you’ve had something delicious, and it was in a specific time and place that you won’t ever get to visit again, but the memory of it just kind of haunts you?

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can recreate it at home. It’s crazy, but this post is brought to you by a craving that has lasted for over fifteen years. 

Yes I realize that makes me sound old, but let’s just focus on the fact that the flavors of this Thai Peanut Chicken Wrap are that good, shall we?

Long ago when I was a young, spritely twenty something, I worked in Boston at a mutual fund company (where I met my husband, so they were wonderful years). I used to run out to lunch and grab wraps from this amazing wrap place because they were so quick and so good. They had a ton of different kinds of wraps but I kept returning for their warm, tangy, salty, comforting Thai Peanut Chicken Wrap because the flavors from the peanut sauce were amazing, the crunchy veggies the perfect counter to the soft rice and chicken, and everything was so warm.  Warm rice, warm wrap and warm chicken all succeeded in making my belly very full and happy.  So when I was trying to think of new dinner ideas that could produce the same feeling in my kids, I knew I had to try to recreate this wrap.

I love to make food that is driven by cravings…they can lead you to some very good places. Like this Thai Peanut Satay Sauce.

I have tried to make a good peanut sauce many times before, but I could never get it to be as good as my memory of this wrap. So I kept researching and fiddling and finally…I discovered two game changers. The first is to start with coconut milk. It makes it so thick and creamy and the perfect consistency. The second is white vinegar. SO many recipes for satay sauce use rice wine vinegar but I found a food blog by a woman whose mother hailed from Thailand and sounded like a wonderful cook, and she swore that you should only use white vinegar or apple cider vinegar in your sauce. I actually taste tested this with my big kids and she is SO right. (Can’t re-find her blog either or I would share!)

This sauce actually comes together very fast, and most of these are already in your pantry. Some of the flavor notes like lemongrass and chili I’m listing as optional because if you have coconut milk, peanut butter, soy sauce, lime juice, and ginger, lime and white wine vinegar, you’re going to get something approximating this crave worthy sauce. And then you need to make buckets of it and put it on everything. Noodles, rice, chicken, pizza crust, whatever you prefer.

If you were super smart and made the sauce on a weekend, then your weeknight dinner prep looks like: shred rotisserie chicken and toss it in a pan with some of the sauce to your desired thickness (I would say about 1.5-2 cups per chicken), slice some veggies…

and throw some rice in the rice cooker. I’m not going to lie, jasmine rice is delicious here. But when I had the leftovers for lunch I used the more virtuous brown rice and it was delicious too.

If you don’t have a rice cooker, this recipe (along with literally thousands of others) will make it worth your while. I love it for the use of the steamer tray on top which is completely helpful in steaming broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, etc. But for these wraps I used it for getting the wrap nice and hot. I just put it in and shut the lid after the rice was done for about 1-2  minutes. You can also microwave it in a moist paper towel for 30 seconds too, which I did the next day.

Then you try to build the wrap with rice straight from the rice cooker, still steamy.

The dense packing of the rice is pretty important, so make sure when you wrap it you fold it over and secure all the fillings with one hand and then fold in the ends and roll.

If for any reason you wait to eat this trust me and microwave it for 30 seconds as it is best to eat it pipping hot. You can also wrap it in foil to stay warm if needed.

My kids LOVED this dinner. As did my husband. It is definitely a keeper and I’m so glad to have it in back in my life again. It’s kind of like meeting an old friend again after a long time. Also, how cute is she? She’s basically a dream 11-year-old. I’m glad she gets to know about this wrap young.

Thai Peanut Chicken Wraps

For the sauce:

1 can coconut milk

3/4 cup peanut butter (natural is the best)

3 garlic cloves, finely minced or grated

1 inch piece of ginger, finely minced or grated

4 T. soy sauce

juice of 1 lime

2 T. sweet chili sauce, optional

2 T. lemon grass puree (or let 4 1-inch pieces simmer in the sauce), optional

1/4 c. white vinegar (apple cider vinegar works fine too)

For the filling:

2 cups cooked rice (jasmine is best, brown works too)

1 rotisserie chicken, shredded (about 3 cups)

2 cups peanut sauce

red pepper, thinly sliced

shredded carrots

scallions, sliced

cilantro and lime, if desired

Directions:

While rice cooks in rice cooker, heat 2 cups peanut sauce with shredded chicken. When rice is done, warm wraps in top of rice cooker or microwave in a wet paper towel for 30 seconds. Then quickly build wrap with rice, sauced chicken, veggies, and more sauce if desired. Wrap and serve immediately. If needed, you can make wraps ahead and wrap them in tin foil and keep them warm in the oven at 200 degrees.

 

Pork Posole

August 29, 2019

We are back in the swing of the school year, and I’ve been scouring my cookbooks and the internet to find new dinner ideas. My criteria has been dishes that are easy, delicious and feed a crowd. And I guess I’ve also been looking for things that are a little different, something we’ve never tasted before.

This Pork Posole checks all the boxes. When you find a dish that has SO much flavor, and is so simple and easy, and is a little bit different than anything you’ve had before, you have to share it. The amazing flavor comes from three things: the salsa verde…

the hominy…it was a little hard to find for me so I bought six cans from Amazon and I am very excited to have the makings for more posole in my pantry. Amazon Prime for lyfe. (Seriously, what did moms of little kids do before it existed?)

…and the addition of 3 cups of tortilla chips at the end. It sounds so weird but then you realize that the corn chips dissolve and when they do, they thicken this dish and add salt and fat that makes you crave more. It’s loaded with veggies that help to balance this decadence though, right?

I was a little worried that the fresh poblano pepper would make it too spicy, but my normally picky nine year old loved this dish along with my big kids.

My six year old did not love it though and ate what we always serve the kids who think something is too spicy: a cheese roll up. This is the name we give a tortilla sprinkled with shredded mozzarella or cheddar cheese, rolled up and microwaved for 30 seconds with some avocado. (Just looking out for you mommas out there.)This dish has got to be one of the best bowls of stew/soup I’ve ever had. I’ve seen a lot of posole recipes around using chicken instead, and you could easily swap the pork for the chicken here. But the pork was so flavorful and satisfying I highly recommend trying it. There are a lot of crock pot versions too, but I think sautéing the veggies adds so much flavor and once you’ve done that you might as well just let it simmer on the stove for 30 minutes.The salsa verde and the lime make this taste so fresh, but at its heart this is comfort food and perfect for fall. I hope you get to try it and fall in love with it like we did. 

Happy Eating,

xoxo Katie

Ingredients

Olive oil

1 1/2 pounds lean, boneless pork loin, 1/2-inch diced

2 cups chopped yellow onion (2 onions)

1/3 cup small-diced poblano pepper

2 Holland yellow or orange bell peppers, seeded and 3/4-inch diced

1 tablespoon minced garlic (3 cloves)

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

6 cups good chicken stock, preferably homemade, simmering

1 (12-ounce) jar medium salsa verde

2 (15-ounce) cans white hominy, rinsed and drained

1 (15.5-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and drained

3 cups yellow corn tortilla chips, plus extra for serving

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Lime wedges, sliced or diced avocado, sliced scallions, sliced radishes, grated Cheddar, and sour cream, for serving

Directions

  1. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a medium (11-inch) pot or Dutch oven, such as Le Creuset, over medium-high heat. Add the pork and saute for 5 to 10 minutes, until lightly browned on all sides. Transfer the pork and any liquid to a bowl and set aside. (Don’t worry about crowding the pan here). Heat 2 tablespoons oil in the pot, add the onions, and saute over medium heat for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the poblano and bell peppers and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the garlic, chili powder, and oregano and cook for one minute. Return the pork and its juices to the pot.
  2. Add the chicken stock and salsa verde and bring to a simmer. Stir in the hominy, black beans, corn chips, 1 tablespoon salt, and 1 1/2 teaspoons black pepper and simmer, partially covered, for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add 1 teaspoon salt, depending on the saltiness of the chicken stock and the chips.
  3. To serve, ladle the posole into large soup bowls. Garnish with a squeeze of lime and top with avocado, scallions, radishes, tortilla chips, Cheddar, and sour cream. Serve hot.

Recipe from Ina Garten can be found here on Foodnetwork.com