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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

Teddie’s Cinnamon Apple Cake

September 28, 2021

Happy Fall, friends! It is peak apple season here in New Hampshire and like the rest of New England we can’t get enough.  I keep buying huge bags from my favorite local farmer (where I get my eggs, vegetables and flowers all summer) and I have to go back and get more because we’ve eaten them all.

I have some healthy recipes for you coming, but I thought I would just start with this Apple Cake that originated in the NY Times Cooking section and found its way to Alexandra Cooks, and then into my kitchen with our twins. They love to cook! We make a lot of muffins and cookies, but they got very excited when I asked if they wanted to make Apple Cake. We have no idea who Teddie is though.

I really wanted to try it because it sounded similar to the blueberry cake I posted about last summer that was a recipe my mother in law makes often for family get togethers. I have really grown to love how a fruit cake is just as good with coffee in the morning as it is with ice cream for desert. And that is just what Alexander said she loved about this cake too.

Turns out it is fall in a slice of cake.

So moist, sweet, and filled with the warm spices of cinnamon. And I added a twist from what what we love about the blueberry cake which is to sprinkle cinnamon sugar on top. It makes it slightly crunchy with a sugary cinnamon crust. I highly recommend.

As I was making this I thought of a ton of variations – it would be so easy to triple this recipe and put it on a big sheet pan to feed a crowd. It would also be great with a drizzle of a maple frosting, but it is so simple and moist on its own and really lets the apples shine.

This recipe made me want to invite neighbors over and sit down and chat and drink coffee. It is the perfect thing to make for a neighbor or a get together (still so glad we have those now! I don’t take them for granted!).  Or just make it for your crew for dessert.

Teddie’s Cinnamon Apple Cake

INGREDIENTS

  • Butter for greasing pan
  • 3 cups(384 g) flour, plus more for dusting pan
  • 1 1/2 cupsvegetable oil
  • 2 cups sugar (+2 Tablespoons for topping)
  • 3eggs
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon (+ 1/2 teaspoon for topping)
  • 1 teaspoonbaking soda
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 3 cups peeled, cored and thickly sliced tart apples, I used Cortland & they were great*
  • 1 cup chopped walnuts (I omit)
  • 1 cup raisins (I omit)
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving, optional

*Alexandra used a mix of Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, Fuji, York and Cameo with success — use whatever you have on hand or whatever variety you prefer to bake with.

INSTRUCTIONS

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour a 9-inch tube pan. Beat the oil and sugar together in a mixer (fitted with a paddle attachment) while assembling the remaining ingredients. After about 5 minutes, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is creamy.
  2. Sift together 3 cups of flour, the salt, cinnamon and baking soda. Stir into the batter. Add the vanilla, apples, walnuts (if using) and raisins (if using) and stir until combined.
  3. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.  Mix together the 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 Tablespoons sugar and sprinkle it over the top. Bake for 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool in the pan before turning out. Serve at room temperature with vanilla ice cream, if desired.

Recipe from NY Times via Alexandra Cooks.

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.

 

 

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.

 

Greek Panzanella + Notes from a Lake Kitchen

July 27, 2019

We’re spending a month by the lake in our new (to us) camp about an hour north of Portland, Maine, near Sunday River and it has made me think a lot about food. We’ve had the house since January, but then it felt more like a ski house kitchen, and I had crock pots of short ribs and spaghetti and meatballs on heavy rotation. This summer we’re here for a whole month because our kitchen and floors are getting redone after we had a leak (and why this blog is so silent lately!). It definitely feels like the longest vacation we’ve ever had, which has been lovely and the days are passing like caramel melts in your mouth, sweet and slow.

I wasn’t sure this would be the case. A summer version of The Shining did cross my mind when I was packing my six kids to come up here. But walks by the lake every morning, swimming and reading every afternoon have given us such great family time and enough structure without any stress which feels…amazing. As Winnie the Pooh says in the recent Christopher Robin movie, “doing nothing often leads to the very best of something.” And of course he is right.

When you’re on vacation, you want to eat delicious food but don’t want to clean up. Going out to eat is how many people resolve this but going out to eat with the twins gives me indigestion and makes me want to take a nap immediately, so we avoid it.

At home we rely on our pizza delivery place, but here they a) don’t deliver and b) don’t always know what the difference is between 30 minutes and 75.  So we’ve been making our own. It’s swayed us mightily since they are always easy and good. I’m somewhat obsessed with the margherita pizza we’ve been making and I don’t see that obsession going away anytime soon, though sautéed Brussels sprouts with pancetta is a close second.

For breakfast I’ve been living off of avocado toasts (the twins love it) and my favorite mushroom and goat cheese fritatta.

For dinners I wanted to try out a few new recipes and promptly realized why a stocked pantry is so necessary to cooking. Buying all the asian condiments like hoisin sauce and fish sauce and rice wine vinegar will add to your bill considerably. And may make you wish you did in fact go out to eat. But still this 30 minute Asian beef bowl – which was born from my 13-year olds craving a dish he had had on vacation one time – was worth all the condiments, and it was really good with some broccoli and red peppers sautéed with soy sauce and sesame oil drizzled on it. And this thai chicken flatbread pizza was so good too.

It’s the rhythms of food that always appeal to me, and that stands out so much here. Chopping an onion, mixing a vinaigrette, turning yesterdays meal of roast chicken or grilled veggies into something delicious. Forming these little rituals that will become ways to connect us to our time here through the years. And that’s what seasonal eating is, just relishing the present moment with all its delights. When our neighbor, Bobbie, who has a camp right next to us invited me over for a visit, she offered me some raspberry pie with her fresh raspberries picked from her patch at home. It was like summer sunshine exploded in your mouth. And another friend and her mom were here for a visit and she made raspberry jam that we’ve been spreading on toast. It’s making me want to go home and plant as many raspberry bushes as I can fit into our yard.

I love finding treasures offered up by the local food stores. The road to the ski mountain Sunday River is loaded with wonderful markets and organic offerings, and I found Miso and fresh greens and the best rosé in a can which fits perfectly into the stroller cup holders. I also found great asiago bread at the store in town and toasted it’s delicious – it’s a lot like the cheese bread we get in Pemaquid, Maine. They also have great ciabatta bread and another bakery sells pain au chocolat too. These are the beginnings of our food memories here, and they’re making me so happy.

I turned the leftover bread into panzanella salad this week and decided to make it a greek version – I have a long standing love of Greek salad and could eat it for lunch every day so I always have the makings on hand.

And I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough cucumbers and tomatoes in the summer, preferably with some kind of vinegar.

So much goodness in one bowl. I love the briney olives with the creamy salty feta and chewy bread that’s absorbed all the vinegar.

 

In short, eating on vacation in July is the essence of simple. And the best part is all the walking and swimming and playing in the sun keeps you feeling great.

Next week I’ll be back in my newly refurbished kitchen and taking all the inspiration from this month with me. Stop back here if you want to see what it looks like!

Well, I just heard a splash that means the kids are swimming and I think I’ll go join them. They made up a new game that involves racing off the dock, and that’s pretty much what we dreamed of when we bought this place.

Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Greek Panzanella Salad

Ingredients

1 small French bread or ciabatta loaf, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 cups)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

2 large, ripe tomatoes, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 hothouse cucumber, unpeeled, seeded, and sliced 1/2-inch thick

1 orange or yellow bell pepper, seeded and cut into 1-inch cubes

1 large shallot, diced or 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced

8-10 large basil leaves, coarsely chopped

1/2 cup Greek olives (or more if you love them like me)

8 oz. feta cheese, cubed or crumbled

For the vinaigrette:

1 teaspoon finely minced garlic

1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard

4 tablespoons Red wine vinegar

1/2 t. dried oregano

1/4 cup good olive oil

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

 

Directions:

Make the vinaigrette, then mix all ingredients together in a large bowl and pour vinaigrette over them. Toss to coat, and enjoy!

Chicken, Bacon, Spinach and Tomato Pasta Bake

May 17, 2019

You guys, it’s been a while since we had a casserole here on THO. But I have a friend who just had a baby girl (hi Meaghan!). When I thought about what meal I could bring her I was bored with every casserole I had made before.

Enter this Chicken BLT one.

I’ve been on a BLT kick ever since I ordered one at Panera a few weeks ago. So simple! So delicious! My daughter even asked me if I had bought a large package of bacon or something because I had been cooking with it a lot. Does bacon come in bulk? If so, sign me up.

We all loved this dinner, it’s comfort food and it freezes and travels well, so it makes a great dish to share. Like most casseroles there are a few steps, but you could bake it in the same pot as the pasta is cooked in and you stir it all together if you wanted to.

The thing that makes this SO delicious is I cooked the tomatoes and the spinach in the bacon grease so it would take on the bacon flavor. I got the idea from a pasta dish at the Mother’s Day brunch we went to, where I bit into a cherry tomato and was like, that tastes like bacon! Wait, it’s been cooked in bacon grease!  This had to be duplicated. And voila! It works perfectly here. I love when greens are cooked in flavor too.

I didn’t use bacon grease for the roux as I thought it would make the dish too heavy. Instead in the same pan as I cooked the diced chicken (to save time though you could use rotisserie or bake the chicken in the oven and then dice it) I made a roux with butter, onions and chicken stock and just a little cream and parm to make it delicious.

Then I poured it over the pasta to combine it. It’s important to let the sauce coat the pasta first and then add the tomatoes, spinach and bacon so you don’t burst the tomatoes or crumble the bacon too much.

Then you toss it all together and add this delicious parm and panko topping that really mimics the toast in a BLT.

Drizzle the top with a little olive oil so it turns brown in the oven (channeling my inner Giada here since she does this topping for every casserole she makes).

Bake at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until the panko turns golden, and then when you remove it, add another little crumble of bacon because why not?

True story, when I was taking these photos, I was getting my kindergartener ready to go to LaCrosse practice, and I took a few bites from this plate. It was so ridiculously good that the whole time we were at practice I was counting the minutes until we could go home and have this for dinner. (I finished reading My Brilliant Best Friend to keep my mind off of it thankfully).

Here’s to new babies, comfort food, and good books!  Happy Eating, xoxo Katie

Chicken, Bacon, Spinach and Tomato Pasta Bake

Ingredients:

1 pound penne pasta

1 pound of bacon

2 c. cherry tomatoes

4 c. packed fresh spinach

1 Tbsp. olive oil

3 chicken breasts, diced (or meat from 1 rotisserie chicken)

1 tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper

1 onion, diced

4 Tbsp. of butter (½ a stick)

¼ cup flour

2 cups chicken stock

¼ cup cream

½ + ⅓ cup freshly grated parmesean

⅓ cup panko

Directions:

Cook pasta in salted water according to package, drain, and return to pot, drizzling with a little oil so it doesn’t stick. While it cooks, fry bacon (may need two pans or to work in batches if pan is too small). Once it’s cooked, remove and place on paper towel lined plate. Pour off all but 2 T. of the bacon fat. Add tomatoes and spinach to remaining bacon fat and cook on medium heat, tossing in pan instead of stirring so you don’t break tomatoes. Cook for 3-4 minutes until spinach is wilted and tomatoes are slightly blistered, taking care not to overcook. In another large pan, heat olive oil on medium high heat, then add diced chicken, salt and pepper. (If using precooked or rotisserie chicken you can skip this step). Cook until chicken is nicely brown, then remove from pan on a plate and set aside. In the same pan, melt 4 Tbsp. butter, and then add diced onions. Cook until onions are soft, about 4-5 minutes. Then whisk in flour for 1 minute. Then add chicken stock and whisk well. Then whisk in cream and ½ cup parmesan and mix until its melted into sauce. Taste for seasoning, adding salt if needed. Pour this mixture over the pasta and stir to combine. Then add the cooked tomatoes, spinach and chicken. Seperate 3 strips of bacon, and cut up the rest and add to the pot. Gently combine all these ingredients so as not to break the tomatoes and then pour them into a 9 x 13 casserole dish. Combine panko and remaining ⅓ cup parmesan and sprinkle over the top, then drizzle with a little olive oil. Cook at 350 for 25-30 minutes or until panko is slightly browned. Remove and sprinkle with remaining 3 strips of bacon, cut up.