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

Perfect End-of-Summer Recipes

It is the last weekend of summer and time for one last BBQ before we put the grills back into storage. If summer has to end we might as well make good food to send it off right. Here are some great recipes to help make the perfect Summer’s end feast!

Watermelon “CAPRESE” with Balsamic Glaze

Photo Courtesy: www.skinnytaste.com
Photo Credit: http://www.skinnytaste.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 1/2 red seedless watermelon, sliced 1/2 inch thick (calculated with 16 oz)
  • 8 – 1 oz thin slices fresh mozzarella
  • 1 loose cup baby arugula
  • 2 tsp extra virgin olive oil
  • kosher salt
  • 2 tbsp balsamic glaze

DIRECTIONS

Use a 4-inch star-shaped cookie cutter (or any shape) and cut 16 stars out of the watermelon (about 1 oz each). Save the excess watermelon for another use.

Arrange the watermelon on a platter, then layer with cheese, arugula, 1/4 tsp olive oil and a pinch of salt on each. Top with a final star, drizzle each with balsamic glaze and serve.

For the full recipe click HERE.

Turkey Burgers with Orange Mustard Glaze

Photo Credit: www.foodnetwork.com
Photo Credit: http://www.foodnetwork.com

INGREDIENTS

Burgers:

  • 1 tbsp coarse kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp ground paprika
  • 1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp granulated garlic
  • 3 lbs ground turkey (white and dark meat)

Glaze:

  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup diced yellow onion
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/4 cup diced jalapeno peppers, with seeds
  • 1 9 oz jar orange marmalade (with peel)
  • 1 tbsp dijon mustard
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp chili powder

DIRECTIONS

Prep the burgers: Combine the salt, paprika, pepper and granulated garlic in a small bowl. Form 6 turkey patties and sprinkle on both sides with the seasoning mixture.

Make the glaze: Heat the vegetable oil in a medium skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion, garlic and jalapeños and saute until the onion is translucent, about 10 minutes. Add the marmalade, mustard, black pepper and chili powder and cook about 2 minutes, until fully combined. Reserve until ready to use.

Preheat a grill to high. Grill the patties until nice markings are shown, about 5 minutes per side, then reduce the flame to medium and cook until well done, 12 more minutes, flipping after 5 minutes. At the same time, toast the buns on the grill.

Serve the burgers on the buns; top with the glaze, lettuce, tomato and red onion. Serve with pickles.

For the full recipe click HERE.

Banana Split Kebobs

Photo Credit: www.delish.com
Photo Credit: http://www.delish.com

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 bananas, cut into 1″ pieces
  • 24 1″ pieces pineapple
  • 12 large strawberries, rinsed, dried, and halved
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  • ½ cup peanuts, chopped

DIRECTIONS

Assemble the kebobs: thread two pieces of banana, pineapple, and strawberry onto skewer. Repeat process to assemble 23 more skewers. Place all on parchment-lined baking sheet.

In a microwave-safe bowl, heat chocolate in microwave using 30-second intervals and stirring in between until completely smooth.

Drizzle chocolate over fruit kebobs and top with chopped peanuts.

Freeze until ready to serve.

For the full recipe click HERE.

When you should harvest your vegetables from your garden

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There’s nothing better than growing your own vegetable garden. You spend a lot of time all summer taking care of your garden in order to get the most out of it. That’s why it’s important to know when it’s the right time to begin harvesting. This not only depends on when your crops are ripe, but also the length of your growing season.

Below is a list of garden vegetables ,along with the best time for picking each kind.

  • Asparagus: When spears are 6-8 inches tall and as thick as your pinky finger, snap them off at ground level and new ones will begin to grow. Stop harvesting about 4-6 weeks after the initial harvest.

  • Beans: Pick before the seeds start to bulge. They should snap in half easily.

  • Beets: These are ready as soon as you see the top of the beet above the soil line. You can leave them in the ground longer if you prefer larger-sized beets. Also, you can harvest the green tops and eat them as well.

  • Cabbage: When the head of the cabbage is solid all the way through when squeezed, it is fully matured and ready to pick.

  • Carrots: These are harder to judge, but can be picked when the carrot shows at the soil line and you can see the diameter of the carrot. They can be left in the ground longer once matured, and a light frost is said to sweeten the carrot.

  • Cauliflower: Similar to broccoli, when the head looks full and the curds of the head are smooth. They typically will not be the same size as ones found at the supermarket.

  • Corn: Once the silk turns dry and brown, the kernels should exude a milky substance when pricked.

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  • Cucumber: Check daily and harvest while they’re young. Timing and length will vary, but the cucumber should be firm and smooth. Over-ripe cucumbers can be bitter even before they start to turn yellow.

  • Eggplant: Slightly immature eggplants taste best. They should be firm and shiny. Cut the eggplant rather than pulling from the plant.

  • Garlic: Garlic tops will start to fall over and begin to turn brown when the bulbs are ready to be picked. Try to dig them up rather than pulling them, and allow them to dry before storing. It’s best to brush off the dirt instead of washing them.10584099_797756826923284_5225641105503497678_n

  • Kale: Kale should be deep green, with a firm texture. The flavor is best in cooler weather.

  • Lettuce (Head): Harvest once the head feels full and firm. Hot weather will cause them to go to seed quicker rather than filling out.

  • Lettuce (Leaf): Harvest the outer leaves once the plant reaches about 4 inches in height. Allow the younger leaves to grow, and repeat for most of the summer season.

  • Onions: Once the tops have ripened and fallen over you can dig up the onion, allow the onion to dry completely before storing.

  • Peas: These are best to be tasted to determine when to pick. If a sweeter pea is preferred, it is best to pick before the pea pods get too large and full.

  • Potatoes: “New” potatoes can be harvested when the tops start to flower. For full-sized potatoes, wait until the tops dry up and turn brown, then dig around the perimeter of the potato to avoid slicing it.

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  • Pumpkins: As soon as pumpkins have turned to the expected color and the vines are starting to wilt away, they can be picked. As soon as a pumpkin is cut from the vine it stops turning orange.

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  • Radishes: These mature rather quickly. As soon as you see radish pop out above the soil line is the best time to pick. Don’t leave them in the ground too long, as they will become tough and go to seed.

  • Squash (Winter): Similar to pumpkins, these can be cut from the vine as soon as they turn to the expected color.

  • Tomatoes: When a tomato has reached its color and is slightly soft to the touch, gently twist and pull from the vine.

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Now that all the hard work and harvesting are done, it’s time to enjoy the end results. There are many different ways to enjoy your harvest. Depending on how good a season it is, one way to enjoy your harvest in the winter months is to freeze certain vegetables or do some canning. Making spaghetti sauce or salsa is a great way to use up all those extra tomatoes and peppers. Happy Harvesting!

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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.