Creamy Chicken and Mushroom Soup

Now that the holidays are over, you might be looking for a hearty meal idea that is not only healthy, but quick and easy to make. Here is a comforting and cozy soup recipe that is deliciously creamy and will warm your bones during these cold winter months. This soup only takes 30 minutes from start to finish, and is sure to satisfy.

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INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 8 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cut into 1-inch chunks
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, thinly sliced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 carrots, peeled and diced
  • 2 stalks celery, diced
  • ½ teaspoon dried thyme
  • ¼ cup all-purpose flour
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ½ cup half and half, or more, as needed
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 sprig rosemary

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Heat olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Season chicken thighs with salt and pepper to taste. Add chicken to the stockpot and cook until golden, about 2-3 minutes; set aside.
  2. Melt butter in the stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add garlic, mushrooms, onion, carrots and celery. Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, about 3-4 minutes. Stir in thyme until fragrant, about 1 minute.
  3. Whisk in flour until lightly browned, about 1 minute. Whisk in chicken stock, bay leaf and chicken thighs, and cook, whisking constantly, until slightly thickened, about 4-5 minutes.
  4. Stir in half and half until heated through, about 1-2 minutes; season with salt and pepper to taste. If the soup is too thick, add more half and half as needed until desired consistency is reached.
  5. Serve immediately, garnished with parsley and rosemary, if desired.

Enjoy!

Need a Little Inspiration for Halloween Goodies?

With Halloween just around the corner (less than a week away), it’s always nice to have some fun food ideas to share with the kids. Why not start the Halloween weekend off with some goodies to get everyone in the Halloween spirit? Check out a few ideas listed below that will have everyone begging for more.

Homemade Cheese Balls

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Picture Credit: http://www.womansday.com/food-recipes

Ingredients

  • 4 large green tortillas or wraps
  • 2 c. Cheetos, finely crushed into crumbs
  • 2 Tbsp. black sesame seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. poppy seeds
  • 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1 (4-oz.) package goat cheese, at room temperature
  • black pepper
  • black and green olives

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Cut the tortillas into 24 bat-shaped wings. Place on a large rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and crisp, but not browned, about 15 minutes: let cool. Line a second large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper.
  2. Place the Cheetos crumbs and seeds in separate small bowls.
  3. In a medium bowl, combine the cream cheese, goat cheese, and pepper to taste. Using a 1 oz cookie scoop, scoop balls of cheese and round out, gently molding with your hands.
  4. Coat the cheese balls in the crumbs or seeds. Transfer to the prepared baking sheet, then refrigerate until ready to serve.
  5. Once the tortilla wings are cool, gently press into the sides of each cheese ball. Thinly slice olives and place on top of each ball for eyes.

 

Jack O’Lantern Sandwich Bites

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Picture Credit: http://www.womansday.com/food-recipes

Ingredients

  • 1 box refrigerated pie crusts
  • 8 oz. Thinly sliced black forest ham or Virginia ham
  • 8 oz. Thinly sliced Cheddar or Swiss cheese
  • 1 large egg

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil.
  2. Unroll pie crusts. Cut each crust into 24 pumpkin shapes with a 3” pumpkin cookie cutter. Using a 1/2” triangular cookie (aspic) cutter or a sharp knife, cut out eyes and a nose from 12 of the cutouts.
  3. Using a 2” round cutter, cut 24 rounds from the sliced ham and 24 rounds from the sliced Cheddar.
  4. Place 2 slices Cheddar in the center of each of the 12 solid pumpkins; top each with 2 slices of ham. With a small brush, brush beaten egg around edges. Top with remaining pumpkins with cut-out faces, carefully pressing on the edges to seal.
  5. Place on prepared baking sheet. Brush tops with beaten egg. Bake 12 – 15 minutes until light golden. Let cool on rack 5 minutes before serving.

 

Meat Mummy Loaves

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Picture Credit: http://www.womansday.com/food-recipes

Ingredients

  • ¾ lb. white or yellow potatoes
  • Kosher salt and pepper
  • 2 large egs
  • 2 Tbsp. ketchup
  • 2 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • ½ c. panko or plain bread crumbs
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium carrot
  • ¾ lb. ground beef
  • ½ lb. ground pork
  • 12 grape tomatoes
  • ¾ c. lowfat sour cream
  • 24 oz. Peas

Directions

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line a 12-cup muffin tin with foil liners. Place the potatoes in a pot, add enough cold water to cover, and bring to a boil. Add 1 tsp. salt, reduce heat, and simmer until just tender, 15 – 18 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, in a bowl combine the eggs, ketchup, Worcestershire, ½ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper; stir in the bread crumbs. Add the garlic and carrot and mix to combine. Add the beef and pork and mix just until incorporated. Divide the meat mixture among the foil liners and push a tomato into the center of each one. Transfer to the oven and roast until a thermometer inserted into the meat registers 155 F., 14-16 minutes.
  3. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pot. Add the sour cream and ¼ tsp. salt and mash until very smooth. Transfer to a pastry bag fitted with a 1/2” ribbon tip (Wilton 104). Transfer the meat loaves to a platter and pipe the potatoes back and forth over each top to resemble a mummy’s wrapping. Place 2 peas on each for eyes.

Little Ghost Sandwiches

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Picture Credit: http://www.womansday.com/food-recipes

Ingredients

  • 24 slices firm white bread
  • 3 c. chicken or tuna salad
  • 1 tub whipped cream cheese
  • Sliced black olives, for ghost face
  • You’ll need: 3.5 to 4.5” ghost-shaped cookie cutter

Directions

  1. Cut out ghost shapes from bread slices using the cookie cutter. Make 12 sandwiches, using a scant ¼ cup of chicken or tuna salad per sandwich.
  2. Thinly spread surface of top bread slice of each sandwich with cream cheese (about 1 Tbsp. per sandwich). Decorate with sliced olive eyes and mouths.
  3. You can make salads up to 2 days ahead and refrigerate. Short on time? Instead of making our delicious tuna or chicken salad from scratch, pick up your favorite prepared version from the deli.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy Halloween!

Check out all these recipes and more HERE

5 Festive Fourth of July Recipes

Independence Day is this weekend. I am excited for one of my favorite Fourth of July traditions: the cookout. Each summer, I search for new and delicious fare to serve for this festive occasion. This year, I found some great recipes on Good Housekeeping’s website and also on azcentral.com.

Firecracker Buffalo Chicken Sandwiches

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

If you’d like to add a little spice to your holiday lineup, this sandwich will really hit the spot.

Ingredients

Sandwiches
  • ½ c. hot sauce
  • ¼ c. unsalted butter
  • 3 tbsp. ketchup
  • 4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Hamburger buns
  • ½ c. ranch dressing
Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw
  • 1 c. packed shredded Savoy cabbage
  • 1 small apple
  • 2 celery ribs
  • 1½ oz. bleu cheese
  • ¼ c. coarsely chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
  • 1 shallot
  • 3 tbsp. olive oil
  • 1½ tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • ½ tsp. sugar
  • Salt
  • Pepper

Directions

  1. Preheat grill to medium-high.
  2. Combine the first three ingredients in a bowl; reserve 1/4 cup of the mixture. Add chicken to the remaining mixture and toss to coat. Marinate for 20 minutes. Remove the chicken from marinade; discard marinade.
  3. Grill chicken, covered, until the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees F, 5 to 7 minutes per side. Grill buns until lightly toasted, 1 to 2 minutes. Spread dressing on buns.
  4. Serve chicken topped with Bleu Cheese-Apple Slaw and drizzled with reserved sauce between buns.
  5. To make the slaw:Combine all slaw ingredients in a large bowl.

 

Smoky Barbequed Shrimp & Peach Kabobs

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

For lighter fare, these flavorful skewers kick it up a notch.

 Ingredients

  • 12 metal or bamboo skewers
  • 1 tbsp. packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. sweet paprika
  • ½ tsp. ground cumin
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1 lb. shelled de-veined shrimp
  • 3 medium peaches
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • Lime wedges

Directions

  1. If using bamboo skewers, soak skewers in cold water at least 30 minutes to prevent burning. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
  2. In large bowl, combine brown sugar, chile powder, paprika, cumin, cayenne, 1/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add shrimp, peaches, and onion; toss until evenly coated.
  3. Thread shrimp, peaches, and onion alternately onto skewers.
  4. Grill 3 to 4 minutes or until browned and shrimp become opaque throughout, turning once. Serve with lime wedges.

 

Red, White, and Bleu Potato Salad

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Photo courtesy of Good Housekeeping

This fresher version of a traditional staple is a welcome accompaniment to any summer barbeque.

Ingredients

  • 3 lb. red potatoes
  • Kosher salt
  • Pepper
  • ¼ c. aged sherry vinegar
  • 1 small shallot
  • 2 tsp. Dijon mustard
  • ½ c. bleu cheese
  • ⅓ c. olive oil
  • 3 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 14 oz. watercress
  • 2 green onions

Directions

  1. Place potatoes in an 8-quart saucepot. Add water until potatoes are immersed. Add 2 tablespoons salt and heat to boiling on high. Reduce heat to medium. Boil 10 to 20 minutes or until potatoes are just cooked through, but not soft. Test by piercing a potato with a thin skewer or toothpick; when skewer meets some resistance but can slide all the way through, drain potatoes immediately. Potatoes can be drained and set aside at room temperature up to 4 hours ahead.
  2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the vinegar, shallot, mustard, bleu cheese, and 1/3 cup oil. This vinaigrette can be covered and refrigerated up to 4 hours ahead.
  3. Prepare outdoor grill for direct grilling on high.
  4. Cut potatoes into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Brush both sides of each slice with the remaining 3 tablespoons of oil, then sprinkle with a 1/2-teaspoon of salt and a 1/4-teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper.
  5. Place potato slices on the hot grill grate. Grill 5 to 10 minutes or until the potatoes are lightly browned on both sides, turning over once.
  6. Place watercress on large serving platter. Top with the potatoes and green onions. Drizzle the vinaigrette on top. Serve immediately.

 

Firework Fruit Skewers

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Van Blankenship/Gannett

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The kids (and adults) will love these colorful and festive fruity fireworks.

Ingredients

  • 1 set of 10-inch skewers
  • Watermelon
  • Star cookie cutter
  • Blueberries
  • Mini marshmallows
  • Red grapes (optional)
  • Raspberries (optional)

Directions

  1. Wash fruit and skewers.
  2. Slice watermelon into 1-inch pieces that fit your cookie cutter’s width.
  3. Cut out stars from the watermelon using your cookie cutter.
  4. To assemble the skewers, slide a blueberry onto a stick. Follow with a mini marshmallow.
  5. Repeat, rotating between berries and marshmallows until there is about an inch of stick left.
  6. Place a star-shaped watermelon slice at the top of each skewer, making sure the pointed stick is not exposed.
  7. If desired, add red grapes or raspberries after the marshmallows to make a red, white, and blue pattern on the stick.

 

Star-Spangled Sangria

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Photo courtesy of Rachel Van Blankenship/Gannett

Don’t forget a crisp and refreshing beverage to beat the summer heat.

Ingredients

  • 1 bottle white wine
  • 3 oz. elderflower liqueur
  • 2 c. blueberries, washed
  • 2 c. strawberries, washed and quartered
  • 3-4 Granny Smith apples
  • 12 oz. sparkling water
  • Ice

Directions

  1. Combine the first four ingredients in a pitcher.
  2. Slice the apples into 1/4-inch pieces, wide enough to fit your cookie cutter.
  3. Cut out stars from the apple slices using your cookie cutter.
  4. Chill beverage for at least 4 hours.
  5. Just before serving the sangria, add sparkling water.
  6. Serve sangria in a tall glass with ice and garnish with an apple-star cutout.

Now that you have some delicious ideas for your holiday cookout, you can have peace of mind going into this busy holiday weekend. Just remember to hit your local farm stands and farmers’ markets to get the freshest local organic ingredients.

Click here >> for more fun OMI recipe ideas.

 

 

Great Last-Minute Mother’s Day Gift Ideas

Colorful_spring_gardenMother’s day is only days away. Show your mom how much you love her with a thoughtful gift straight from the heart.

  1. Plan an Outing:  Take your mom to her favorite restaurant, museum, play, movie, concert, or some other event she would enjoy
  2. Plan a Special At-Home Treat:  Make her breakfast in bed, or plan a night in, make her a delicious dinner, then watch a video and relax.morgan-making-smoothie-273x300
  3. Create a gift from things you have around the house, such as this no-sew t-shirt pillow:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DDVcStxBINs
  4. Make Her Kitchen Mason-Jar Herb Garden:mason-jar-planter-board-747x1024Use a piece of wood and affix the quart-size mason jars using heavy-duty stainless hose clamps, adding chalkboard strips for labeling. Place gravel or clay shards at the bottom of the jars to avoid rot.Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  5. Paint a Tin-Can Mini Flower Pot: Transform tin cans into elegant containers for potted roses with a can of spray paint in a bright and stylish color.
  6. Give Her the Gift of Relaxation: Gift your mom a relaxing gift basket filled with assorted “tub teas.” pampering items, lotions, etc., to help with sleepless nights.
  7. Glass Vase Centerpiece:Shanty2Chic-Bottle-VaseUse recycled glass wine bottles in a pine or whitewood frame and with fresh flowers.   For a full tutorial on creating this gift, visit Shanty 2 Chic
  8. Recipe Ring:
    DIY-Recipe-Ring
    A great easy gift to help keep your mom’s special recipes. Type out recipes with 6” long and 4” tall dimensions so you are able to glue them onto note cards. Print the recipes onto different-colored paper. You can even color code them according to side dish, entree, dessert, etc. Cut out and glue to note cards; laminate if possible. Hole-punch the top left corner and add a ring. You can even attach a new bright spatula or whisk to the ring for a fun extra addition.  
    Click HERE for the full tutorial. 
  9. Head Outdoors:
    family-walking-through-the-woods1
    Enjoy the great outdoors with a trip to the park for a picnic, or plan a hike to a favorite outdoor area.
  10. Framed Memory: A picture can be worth a thousand words, so give your mom a favorite picture of you or your siblings, or even the two of you together.
  11. Send a Thoughtful Card: Skip the funny card from the card aisle at the grocery store and make your own. Include a note about how special your mom is to you.

This Mother’s Day, make sure to do a little something extra special!

A Menu for a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

With Cinco de Mayo only days away it is time to begin planning a delicious meal to share with friends. Here are some great recipes to help you start planning a yummy menu:

CUCUMBER-JALAPEÑO MARGARITA

Tuna Nachos w/Cucumber Margarita

INGREDIENTS

  • Coarse sea or kosher salt
  • 1 lime wedge
  • ½ cup peeled, finely diced cucumber
  • 4 slices of jalapeño
  • ¼ cup cilantro sprigs
  • ¾ oz. fresh lime juice
  • ¼ oz. light agave nectar
  • 2 oz. 100% blue agave silver tequila
  • ½ oz. Cointreau or triple sec

DIRECTIONS

Pour an even layer of salt on a plate. Rub the rim of an 8-ounce rocks glass or tumbler with lime wedge and invert glass into salt to coat rim.

Combine cucumber, jalapeño, cilantro, lime juice, and agave nectar in a 2-cup cocktail shaker. Using a muddler or pestle, gently muddle the mixture.

Fill the shaker halfway with ice, and then add tequila and Cointreau. Cover and shake well until shaker is frosty and cold.

Fill prepared glass with ice. Strain margarita into it and garnish with the cucumber slice.

RAINBOW SALSA

Mexican cuisine: tasty salsa and corn chips nachos close-up. Horizontal

INGREDIENTS

  • 3 roma tomatoes, cored and diced
  • 1-2 jalapeño peppers, stems removed, seeded and diced (add more/less to taste)
  • 1 large red bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large orange bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 large yellow bell pepper, cored and diced
  • 1 (15 oz.) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 (15 oz.) can whole kernel corn, drained
  • 1 cup chopped fresh cilantro, loosely-packed
  • 2/3 cup chopped red onion (about half of a small red onion)
  • 2 tbsp. freshly-squeezed lime juice (about 1 large lime)
  • 1/2 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1 small bag tortilla chips

DIRECTIONS

Combine the tomatoes, jalapeño, bell peppers, black beans, corn, cilantro and red onion in a large bowl.

In a separate bowl, whisk together the lime juice, garlic powder, cumin and salt until combined.  Add the juice to the bowl of salsa.  Then toss everything until combined.

Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate for up to 48 hours.

TEQUILA-MUSTARD-GLAZED CHICKEN SKEWERS

Grilled chicken skewer with grilled vegeyables salad

INGREDIENTS

Marinated Chicken

  • ½ cup tequila
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • ½ cup light brown sugar
  • 4 garlic cloves, chopped
  •  1 tbsp. chopped oregano
  •   1 tbsp. kosher salt
  • 3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken thighs cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips

Tequila Mustard

  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1/4 cup water
  • ¼ cup malt vinegar
  •  ¼ cup honey
  • ¼ cup tequila
  • 2 tbsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 tbsp. dry mustard
  • 1 tbsp. ground coriander
  •  1 tbsp. ground cumin
  •  1 tbsp. chile powder
  • 1 tsp. finely grated lime zest
  • Salt

DIRECTIONS

In a large bowl, combine the tequila, brown sugar, olive oil, garlic, oregano and salt. Add the chicken, toss to coat, cover and refrigerate for 1 hour.

In a saucepan, whisk together the egg yolks, water, malt vinegar, honey, tequila, lime juice, dry mustard, coriander, cumin and chile powder. Cook over low heat, whisking continuously until thickened (approximately 5 minutes); do not boil. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Stir in the lime zest and season with salt. Let cool to room temperature, then refrigerate.

Soak 24 bamboo skewers in water for 30 minutes. Light a grill. Transfer 1/2 cup of the mustard to a small bowl. Thread the chicken onto the top third of the skewers; grill over moderate heat, turning, until browned and almost cooked (approximately 8 minutes). Brush the chicken with the reserved ½ cup of mustard and grill until glazed and cooked through. Serve the skewers with the remaining mustard.

Be sure to visit your local farmer’s market to get the freshest ingredients possible for your Cinco de Mayo fiesta.

Healthy, Delicious, and Fresh Packed Lunch Ideas

8459976360_3c160f881d_bNow that the kids in back and school, the routines can begin again. In my house we prepare for school the night before by making sure the homework is checked, clothes are picked out, and lunch is packed. Often times, I find that we get stuck in food ruts and pack the usual sandwich and carrot sticks. To battle the food rut I look to the internet to search for new and healthy ideas, and I get overloaded with options.

Here are a few new favorite foods that are loved in our house so far:

Whole-wheat “Pita Pizza” (toasted in the toaster oven and then served cold)Pita_pizza_(17188259486)Organic Ham and Cheese Rolls

Whole-wheat waffle sandwich stuffed with fresh fruit or jelly

6995490557_690963d7ff_oPlain yogurt with a variety of delicious add ins

  • Granola
  • Peanut or Almond Butter
  • Fresh Fruit
  • Vanilla Extract and Coconut Flakes
  • Honey
  • Vanilla Extract and Mini Chocolate Chips

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Popcorn

Frozen Smoothie

Apple with Peanut Butter

8466410432_65a56dbe8a_oWhole-wheat carrot applesauce muffins

Carrot_Cake_Muffins_(4135137580)Grilled Cheese with Pesto on Whole-wheat (served cold)

Whole-wheat Cinnamon Raisin Bagel with Organic Cream Cheese

BLT on Whole-wheat

15169375890_5b513e327cAn other great choice that allows your child to have fun is packing lunches themselves. Here are two really terrific and yummy packed lunches from the Blog 100 Days of Real Food:

Build a Taco Lunch

  • Corn Tortilla
  • Shredded Pork Taco Meat with Bell Peppers
  • Cheese
  • Lettuce
  • and other desired sides100 Days of Real FoodConstruct a Pizza
  • Whole-wheat Pita
  • Organic Tomato Sauce
  • Shredded Cheese
  • Additional Desired Toppings such as Vegetables and Pepperoni, etc.

100 Days of Real FoodDon’t get stuck in a rut because there are a lot of great sources that help you to expand the food options you can pack in the lunches. Whatever you choose to pack, make sure it is delicious and nutritious!