Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Of course with this crazy cold weather, soup is so popular and lately I've been making a lot. I like to make soup for dinner because it can be made early in the day and kept warm or easily warmed up. And the best part is there is usually plenty of leftovers for lunch the next day.

I pinned (as in Pinterest) this Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice soup awhile ago because it's one of my favorite soups and I just finally got around to making it. So filling and delicious and I love the texture of wild rice. This recipe is basic, easy and delicious.

The recipe below is from Cooking Classy, a very cute food blog. The recipe calls for Lundberg Wild Blend Rice and I looked for it at 3 stores before I finally found it at Wal-Mart! So crazy because I'm not there often but just ran in for something else and randomly thought to look for it! But I was happy because I was about to buy some other wild rice blends and this brand is half the price!

3/4 cup uncooked wild rice blend (I used Lundberg Wild Blend Rice)
1 small yellow onion, chopped 
3 carrots, diced
3 stalks celery, diced
7 Tbsp butter, diced, divided
1 clove garlic, minced
3 14.5 oz low-sodium chicken broth
1/4 tsp of each dried thyme, marjoram, sage and rosemary
Salt and ground black pepper, to taste
1 lb boneless skinless chicken breasts halves
1/2 cup flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tsp lemon zest

Prepare rice according to directions listed on package.

Halfway through the rice cooking, in a separate large pot, melt 1 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add onion, carrots and celery and saute until slightly tender, about 4 minutes, adding in garlic during last 30 seconds of sauteing. 

Add chicken broth, thyme, marjoram, sage, rosemary and season with salt and black pepper to taste. Increase heat to medium-high, add chicken and bring mixture to a boil. Cover pot with lid and allow mixture to boil 12 - 15 minutes, or until chicken is cooked through (rotating chicken to opposite side once during cooking for thicker chicken breasts - if they don't fully immerse in broth). 

Remove chicken and set aside on cutting board to cool and then shred into small bite size pieces. 

Meanwhile reduce heat to low and add cooked rice. Add shredded chicken to soup.

In a separate medium saucepan, melt remaining 6 Tbsp butter over medium heat. Add flour and cook 1 1/2 minutes, whisking constantly. Then, while whisking vigorously, slowly pour milk into butter/flour mixture. Cook mixture, stirring constantly until it thickens. 

Add milk mixture to soup mixture in pot and cook about 5 minutes longer, or until soup is thickened. 

Stir in heavy cream and lemon zest and serve warm.

Recipe credit from Cooking Classy

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Smoothie Tuesday - Green Mango Banana

All it takes is a new smoothie blender to get me back on smoothie making again! I got the Black + Decker Personal Blender with jar - on sale at Target plus a Cartwheel offer makes it only $17 and I've had no trouble with it so far - its surprisingly powerful. No, I don't have a Vitamix and I'm surviving!

It had been awhile since I was in the smoothie making habit and I'm glad to be back at it. The girls LOVE to enjoy one for breakfast with me, which I like because it's easy and healthy.

I'd like to run a weekly series of the smoothies we've been enjoying. Not really recipes per se, but more of an inspiration of different ingredient combos.

This morning we had the following -

1 handful spinach/kale/chard mix
3/4 cup cashew milk
2 ripe bananas
1 cup frozen mango
1/2 -1 Tablespoon chia seeds

Blend greens and milk. Add bananas and mango. Blend well. Add chia seeds and stir or shake.

- This is the first time we have had cashew milk. It obviously has a very nutty taste that has taken me awhile to get used to but the girls like it. I'd use any milk or even plain water in its place.
- You can use frozen or very ripe bananas. Mine were not frozen because I had ripe bananas to use up so our smoothie wasn't very thick.
- I don't blend the chia seeds just to keep them intact. Also, I pour out the girls smoothie before I add the chia - I just don't think they'd like the texture.
- Use any greens you have or that are on sale - I got this Wegman's mix (pictured above) because it was something different and it would be a good variety for salads too.
- I usually blend my liquid and greens first before adding the fruit.

I love these superfood seeds... they expand in your stomach to make you feel fuller longer!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

Introducing the best pineapple upside down cake I've ever had. True, I don't think I've had many pineapple upside down cakes in my life but one day I saw this on Pinterest, pinned it and then couldn't stop thinking about it. The super sweet, gooey cake just sounded so good. So one day - not a special occasion or anything - I just decided to make it.

So glad I did!

This recipe is from Averie Cooks. I've made several recipes from her site and everything is divine. I recommend looking around.

Pineapple Upside Down Cake

1/2 cup unsalted butter
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
one 20-ounce can pineapple slices
about 12 maraschino cherries
1 cup all-purpose flour
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
pinch salt, optional and to taste
1 large egg
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup sour cream
3 tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small,  microwave-safe bowl, melt the butter, about 1 minute on high power.

Pour the butter into a 9-inch springform cake pan (my springfoam pan was larger which works too). Use your finger to run a bit of butter around the side of the pan so it's well-greased.

Evenly sprinkle the brown sugar over the butter.

Add 1 whole pineapple slice to the center of the pan.

Halve the remaining slices vertically. Stagger them in a fan-like fashion going around the cake.

Place the remaining slices around the sides of the cake pan with the curved side pointing down toward the bottom of the pan. There will likely be bare side patches with no pineapple coverage, that's okay.

Place 1 cherry in the center of the whole pineapple slice in the middle of the pan. Place 1 cherry in the center cutout of all the fanned pineapple slices; set pan aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, optional salt; set aside.

In a separate small bowl, whisk together the next 5 wet ingredients (through vanilla).

Add the wet mixture to the dry, mixing lightly with a spoon or folding with a spatula until just combined. Small lumps will be present, don't overmix or try to stir them smooth.

Gently turn batter out into prepared pan, being careful to not disturb the pineapple slices on the sides or bottom. Fill pan only to about 3/4-full. If you have a little extra batter, discard it rather than overfilling your pan.

Place pan on a cookie sheet (to catch anything that does overflow) and bake for about 40 minutes, or until center is set and not jiggly, and a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean or with a few moist crumbs, but no batter. Only go down about 1-inch with the toothpick, not all the way to the bottom where you'll hit gooey pineapple juice.

Place pan on a wire rack and allow cake to cool for at least 30 minutes before inverting, slicing, and serving. Cake will keep airtight at room temperature for up to 5 days but it's unlikely it won't be eaten by then!

Recipe credit