Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Cream of Mushroom Soup With Chicken

I have been craving cream of mushroom soup for a few weeks now, and not just any cream of mushroom soup, I wanted homemade cream of mushroom soup. The fact that I've never had it before didn't stop the craving, in fact I venture to say that it made it worse, because my imagination gets carried away all the time every once in a while. I LOVE mushrooms. The flavor, the smell, the texture, and most of all the taste. So yes, I had to give in and figure out how to make this dream a reality.

I started with some research into other recipes to see how other chefs do it. Basically every one of them used heavy cream which although VERY delicious has 11 grams of fat for a 2 TBSP serving size so I had to look elsewhere to achieve the creaminess I needed. When I went to the grocery store I discovered they have low fat half and half, only 1.5 grams of fat per 2 TBSP serving, so I was sold :)

The line up:

Mushrooms : Portabella, shiitake and trusty old button mushrooms. In total I had about 2 lbs.
1 quart of low fat half and half
One fresh chicken

**Supporting Cast**
One onion
4 cloves of fresh garlic
2 TBSP dried oregano
1 TBSP ground thyme
salt/pepper to taste
1 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP onion powder
1/4 cup chicken seasoning
1 cup of flour

Give your bird a rinse and set him into your soup pot. Cover with water. Then add all the supporting cast of ingredients (except the flour) and give everything a stir. Bring to boil then reduce to simmer, cover with pot lid, and let cook for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

While the chicken is boiling get your mushrooms cut into chunks and fry them until they have developed golden brown edges.

After the chicken is done, take it out with 2 big spoons or spatulas and set onto a cookie tray, open up the meat to let it cool off. If you have an immersion blender dump about 2/3 of your fried mushrooms into the pot with the broth left from the chicken and then use the immersion blender to get everything to the consistency you want. If you don't have an immersion blender put 2/3 of the fried mushrooms into a regular blender and then use a ladle to get just enough broth to pulverize to the consistency you want. then dump it back into the soup pot. Pick the chicken meat off the bones and add to soup pot. Now add the last 1/3 of the mushroom pieces back to the soup too.

Now to thicken the soup and add creaminess put your flour into a bowl and add the half and half in batches, mixing well between each addition. first addition should make a paste, like the picture above and then with each added one it will become more and more liquidy. This will prevent lumps. After you have the quart of half and half mixed with the flour, just pour it into the soup pot while stiring. Bring the soup back up to a boil and it will thicken slightly.

There you have it, my first attempt at healthy homemade cream of mushroom soup. Don't forget to taste your soup before you serve it and feel free to adjust the seasonings to your taste. This was a very good recipe it was warm, comforting, savory soupy goodness.  The low fat half and half was WONDERFUL! I couldn't even tell it was a low fat soup. Even my picky 14 month old gobbled it all up! We served it with a crusty loaf of poppy seed dill bread from the bakery, yuuuuuum!

What I would do differently next time: I would use more mushrooms!!! I could taste the mushrooms and they were lovely just not enough for me so honestly I would at least double it next time.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Meatless Meatballs

So I had a play date last week with a few friends who also have little munchkins. We always do a potluck dinner when we get together and one of my friends is vegetarian so I brought vegetarian meatballs. Now you might gasp at the thought of meatballs without any actual meat in them but don't hold your breath too long because these are a healthy and delicious food!

Not a very complicated line up of ingredients. Some bread (I used herb garlic rolls I got from good old Walmart), pecan meal, reduced fat cheddar, an onion, a few eggs, a few cloves of garlic, and a box of Washington's rich brown broth (you can get this from health food stores).

First I toasted the bread and cut it into chunks about the size of a pea. I used 3 rolls and ended up with about 2 cups worth.

Then in a bowl I combined 8 oz of the reduced fat cheddar grated, the bread chunks, half an onion diced, 3 cloves of Garlic grated, 1 1/2 cups of ground nuts and 8 eggs.

Then I mixed everything up until it was uniform throughout and used the cookie baller to make mini meatballs on two cookie sheets. I baked them at 350 degrees for 10 minutes until golden brown. This made a little more than 100 meatballs feel free to cut the recipe in half if you want a smaller batch.

mmmmm golden brown goodness!

As you may have noticed there is no salt in this recipe. The salt comes from the broth. I had two options at this point.

Option #1: I could have made just enough of the broth according to package directions to cover the meatballs, poured it over them and baked them for another half an hour. This will bring moisture to the meatballs and flavor as well. Then after that half an hour bake in the broth you can pour off the extra and add in a BBQ sauce and the throw them back into the oven just to get a nice glaze going. This is what I usually do but I felt like a brown/beefy flavored gravy so I opted for option #2.

Option #2: I put enough water in a pot for 2 packages of the broth but added in 3 packaged instead. I added about 1/4 cup of flour to a bowl and then added about 1 cup of milk to the flour slowly stirring between each addition so that the flour didn't get lumpy. Then poured the flour mixture into the broth. Then I added some black pepper and oregano to the gravy. After this I just heated it on the stove until it had boiled and thickened up. Poured it over the meatballs and popped them back into the oven for 30 minutes. This does the same job as option #1 of adding salt and moisture but with the added bonus of being able to serve them straight from the oven with the creamy beefy gravy.

These meatless meatballs are really really great. They are very good served with rice or even just speared with a toothpick and eaten h'orderve style. The broth although vegan, has a GREAT beefy flavor, so much so that I've added it too my beef stew before with great results. So it's warm comforting and yummy :)

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Chocolate Studded Marshmallows

Ok so here is a snack I made for a bonfire with friends and family coming up this weekend. When I heard smores I wanted to make home made marshmallows and graham crackers. I started with the marshmallows. I must admit this is not a very healthy snack but all things in moderation and a girls got to have fun sometimes right?

I used the recipe from Smitten Kitchen because I have always had good luck every time I have made something from this amazing blog. The only thing I changed, I wanted to put the chocolate for the smore into the marshmallow. Because how amazing does it sound to have a roasted marshmallow with warm, gooey, oozy chocolate in it? Just squish it between two graham crackers and that's all you need!

What I did was make a double recipe poured half of the marshmallow goo into the pan, sprinkled 3/4 of a bag of semi sweet chocolate chips on top, added the other half of marshmallow goo, and then sprinkled the remaining 1/4 bag of chips then took a knife and swirled it through the goo to mix the chips in a bit.

Now I haven't had the chance to roast one of these bad boys yet. I am slightly concerned that some of the chips on the side or surface will melt and just drip off, but even if that does happen, there will be more inside getting melty and warm. I can't wait to try this!!! I'll post pictures and tell you how they were roasted over a fire when we try it this Saturday night.

I must say that even un-roasted these are AWESOME! I love how soft they are yet they hold their shape well and are still gooey, chewy sweet goodness. Also I love the vanilla flavor of them, it is stronger than the ones you buy from the store in such a lovely way! Plus crunchy bits of chocolate throughout... yuuuuuum. Enough said ;)

Edited to add... I couldn't wait for the bonfire so I stove roasted one the next day. The chocolate didn't drip, but my only complaint is that the marshmallow got a bit droopy as it roasted. I wish it had stayed a bit firmer because it wanted to slide off the fork. Wonder if adding more gelatin would help with that or not? The taste though... hands down the best roasted marshmallow I have EVER eaten!!!!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Chicken enchilada soup

This is my all time favorite soup recipe. I adapted it from a soup I saw Rachel Ray make a few years ago. My version takes longer than her 30 minute version of Tex Mex soup but I would venture to say the extra time is well worth the effort. This is also one of my all time favorite comfort foods and this was a good week to eat comfort food.

I started with a fresh chicken. Cleaned out the innards, gave it a rinse and then set it into a big pot. Then I added 4 chopped up carrots, 3 stalks of celery and 1 onion purred (instead of chunks because someone who I was feeding is onion phobic). Then I added about 1/4 cup chicken seasoning, 2-3 TBSP smoked paprika, 1/4 cup chili powder, 2 tsp cumin, 2 tsp coriander, and 1 tsp of Mexican oregano. then I added water to cover about 1 inch above the chicken (I added a few more cups of water after this picture) Then gave the liquid a stir and brought the pot up to a boil. Then reduce to a simmer put the pot lid on and let it simmer for 1 1/2 hours.

While the chicken was poaching I got some of the other ingredients out and ready. I shredded some reduced fat cheddar, chopped up one green pepper, 2 jalapenos, 1 bunch of cilantro, and juiced 2 limes.

After the 1 1/2 hours were up I took the whole chicken out of the broth with two spatulas and set it onto a pan, then I used the spatula to open it up a bit so it could cool down. When it had cooled enough to touch, I picked all the meat off the bones and shredded it into bite sized pieces. I added the shredded chicken to my roasting pan. The rest of this soup is made in here because my pot isn't big enough.

While the chicken was cooling I took 6 california peppers and cleaned them (took off the stem, took out the ribs and seeds and gave them a rinse) Then I dropped them to boil with the chicken broth while I was cleaning the meat off the chicken bones. When I had finished with the chicken (about 15 minutes later) I fished them out of the broth with a spatula and put them into my blender with a little bit of water and buzzed that up to make a sauce.

So into the roasting pot on top of the chicken I added the California pepper sauce, two cans of drained black beans, one bag of corn, the green pepper, jalapenos, cilantro and lime juice, 2 cans of fire roasted tomatoes and one box of Uncle Ben's wild rice including the seasoning packet. Then I pored the broth that was left after boiling the chicken right on top and gave the whole thing a stir. I also add a few TBSP of honey to give it a bit of sweetness. In the end I added another 3-4 cups of water so that it would be a bit more brothy, but if you like less broth you could just leave it. I also had to add more of all the spices just to make sure it was perfect. Then just bring the whole thing back up to a simmer for another 20 minutes or so and your done.

Even though you will be eating a big bowl of soup packed with vitamins, nutrients, and healthy protein your tongue will not know that it's eating something good for you. As my son's favorite show Yo Gabba Gabba says it will be a party in your tummy! This soup has a LOT of depth of flavor. It is so amazingly comforting, warm and wonderful. I like to eat this soup with shredded cheddar cheese, a dollop of light sour cream and a side of baked Doritos. I won't change anything with this recipe next time I make it because it has already been perfected in the last few years that I've been making it.

** This soup is not spicy, if you want more heat you can add more jalapenos, any other hot pepper you like, chipolte in adobo sauce, or even hot sauce.