Leeky, Creamy Chicken and Dumpling Soup

PhotobucketWhen I planned this week’s menu, I was craving this soup. Maybe with all the icky, sick germs in my house, my body needed the immune-building homemade penicillin that chicken soup always seems to provide.

I first found this ridiculous easy recipe in Rachel Ray Every Day, but over the years, I’ve tweaked it a bit by finding a way to reduce the fat without losing all the creaminess.  I also use less gnocchi than the original recipe.

It’s been a while since I last made it, but one taste and I remembered how much I love it and it’s always a hit with the family too.

With the nasty cold weather expected this weekend, bundle up and stay warm and then get this soup started for dinner tonight.  With this soup, you can prepare it ahead of time and then throw the gnocchi in just before you serve it.  The leftovers reheat and freeze nicely too, so you’ll have it for another cold, winter day.

Leeky, Creamy Chicken and Dumpling Soup
(Adapted from Rachel Ray)

Ingredients
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
3 leeks, white and tender green parts split lengthwise and thinly sliced crosswise
5 celery stalks, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
4 cups low sodium chicken broth
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 cup non-fat milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into small chunks
1 package gnocchi
1/3 cup chopped flat leaf parsley
3 Tbsp dry sherry
¼ tsp cayenne pepper

Directions
In a Dutch oven or soup pot, heat olive oil over medium heat.  Add the leeks, celery and bay leaf and cook until the vegetables are softened, about 5 minutes.

Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the cream and milk, lower the heat and simmer until the soup bubbles at the edges.

Add cayenne pepper, salt and pepper to taste.  Add the chicken and gnocchi and cook for 5 minutes.  Stir in the parsley and sherry.  Serve hot.

Makes  4-6 servings.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week!

While here, don’t forget to toss some cookies at The Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap!



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Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

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Everything But The… Cookies

PhotobucketEither my oldest daughter is obsessed with food as I am or she is one very creative kid.  We’ll go with the latter.  Either way, she does have some delicious and ingenious ideas when it comes to cookies.

We’re huge ice cream fans, especially Ben & Jerry’s, however, we only splurge on the Cadillac of ice cream when it’s on BOGO at our local supermarket.  Thankfully, that hasn’t happened in a while.  Though my taste buds miss the ice cold delicacy, my thighs can do without it.

Then, one day in a sad we-miss-Ben & Jerry’s moment, Allana says, “You know what would be really good?  An Everything But The… cookie.”

“Oh my God.  That’s genius!”  I felt a twinge in my thighs when I said it.

Then in like an ironic twist of fate, I woke up in the middle of the night with a Charlie horse in my right quad.  My thigh was already Jonesing for the chocolaty goodness.

These ice cream inspired cookies came out better than Allana and I imagined.  I just hope my thighs don’t beg for them in the middle of the night again.

Everything But The… Cookies
Ingredients
1 stick unsalted butter, cold
¾ cup white sugar
¾ cup brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all purpose flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp baking soda
½ cup chopped almonds
½ cup pretzel sticks
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
½ cup white chocolate chips
½ cup Heath English Toffee Bits
½ cup Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups Minis

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

Using a standing electric mixer, cream together butter and sugar.  Then add eggs one at a time and beat until well blended.  Mix in vanilla.

In another bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.  Add flour to wet ingredients a little at a time and mix on a low speed until well combined.  Mix in pretzel sticks and almonds.

Remove bowl from mixer and fold in chocolate chips, Heath bits and mini peanut butter cups.

Drop about a tablespoon amount of dough onto baking sheets about 2 inches apart.  Bake for 13-15 minutes.

Remove from oven and allow cookies to cool on baking sheets for five minutes.  Then, move cookies to cooling rack to cool completely.

Makes approximately three dozen.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week!

And while here, don’t forget to toss some cookies at The Ultimate Virtual Christmas Cookie Swap!



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Sweet Tooth Friday

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins

PhotobucketI’m going to do it.  I’m just going to come right out and shame my mother in front to of the whole blogosphere.

See, on Thanksgiving, my mom prefers the nasty cranberry jelly from the can.  We grew up with the condiment on our Thanksgiving table.

When Allan cooked our first Thanksgiving meal with my family, he made cranberry sauce from scratch.  My mom tried it and could stomach it.  She missed her perfectly cylinder-shaped cranberry sauce.  Every Thanksgiving since then, my mom has brought her own cranberry sauce in the can.

That, my friends, is a true story.

This year when my mom and I were discussing the Thanksgiving menu over the phone, I told her that Allan would be making his own cranberry sauce and I asked her if she would be bringing the can again.

“Of course, because I like it.”

“Mom, you know that stuff is horrible and bad for you right?  Have you ever read the ingredients?  I bet there aren’t even real cranberries in it.”

“Wait.  I’ll read it to you,” she replied as she searched for the can in her pantry.  “Here we go,” she said as she proceeds to read the label.  “Oh wow.  The first ingredient is corn syrup.”

“See, mom.  I told you that stuff is horrible.  You should eat cranberry sauce with real cranberries.”

“But I don’t like the taste.  It’s too tart.”

“That’s because you’re tasting real cranberries and there’s no corn syrup masking the flavor.”

“You’re probably right.  All right I’ll try Allan’s but tell him to not go crazy with the ginger and I’m bringing my own can again.”

I relayed the order to Iron Chef Allan and just as we promised, Allan made a more palatable, no ginger added cranberry sauce for my mom.

This was the first year she didn’t bring the can.  I was so proud of her and even more so when she ate some real cranberry sauce.

However, we had TONS of cranberry sauce leftover.

So, I had this brilliant idea to use the leftover cranberry sauce in muffins.  My kids love muffins and the cranberry sauce would definitely not be left sitting in my fridge.

They came out incredible!   These Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins are by no means low-fat, but after eating 2000 calories in one sitting the day before, I don’t think a few more fat grams (actually 13 grams) would matter.

Ok, so maybe it does matter.  You could try substituting the eggs with a couple of egg whites, applesauce or plain non-fat yogurt to lighten up the recipe, but I can’t guarantee the results, because these little fluffy fattening muffins were delicious.  They are a new day after Thanksgiving tradition for us along this the Day-After Turkey Soup.

By the way, this is the last week I’m sharing uses for leftover Thanksgiving food.  Promise.

Leftover Cranberry Sauce Muffins

Ingredients
3 ½ cups all purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
3 eggs
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup sour cream
2 cups cranberry sauce

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Lightly grease a muffin pan or line with paper liners.

In a medium sized bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.  Set aside.

In a standing electric mixer, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy.  Add eggs one at a time, mixing well after each one.  Add vanilla and sour cream and mix until well incorporated.

On a low setting, add dry ingredients in three parts until batter is smooth.

Remove bowl from mixer.  Gently fold in cranberry sauce.

Using a small ladle, fill muffin cups about 2/3 full.  Bake for 18-24 minutes or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Remove from oven and cool in pan for five minutes.  After five minutes, remove muffins from pan and continue cooling on a rack.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week! 


Don’t forgot to toss your cookies here!

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Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Day-After Turkey Soup

PhotobucketMy MIL makes a mean leftover turkey soup.  When only the skeletal remains of a once beloved bird were left standing on Thanksgiving, I longed for my MIL’s homemade Scottish penicillin.

It baffles me that my husband, having been raised by a lineage of great cooks, lacks an appreciation for soup made from a turkey carcass.  He just doesn’t like it.  Or maybe he only likes it when he makes it.

Bingo.

This Thanksgiving, we got to the vegetable root of the matter when I begged Iron Chef Allan to make leftover turkey soup.  (Secret ingredient: turkey carcass.)  He accepted the challenge and found a recipe from the Food Network that he could stomach.  The recipe calls for leftover vegetables, such as brussel sprouts, sweet potatoes and green beans although he used roasted root vegetables (turnips, parsnips, celery root, pearl onions and carrots).

The soup simmered for most of Black Friday and the whole house smelled fabulous.  No bones about it.  The final product was spectacular and the best part, it was Iron Chef Allan approved.

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/-4Jd_O59FQPg/ULimAKS5UyI/AAAAAAAAICY/bJNvfRCuqWY/s800/IMG_6690.JPG

Day-After Turkey Soup
(Borrowed from Food Network)

Ingredients
2 quarts chicken broth
1 turkey carcass, all meat removed
1 onion, halved, plus 1 onion, minced
1 carrot, halved lengthwise, plus 1 carrot, minced
1 whole stalk celery, plus 1 more stalk, minced
2 bay leaves
3 cups dark turkey meat
2 garlic cloves, smashed
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 carrot, minced
1 stalk celery, minced
3 cups leftover cooked Thanksgiving side vegetables
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage leaves

Directions
Put chicken broth, turkey carcass, onion halves, carrot halves, 1 celery stalk and 1 bay leaf in a large stock pot. Bring to a boil, then simmer about 1 ½ hours. Finely dice the remaining onion, carrot and celery and reserve.

Dice the turkey meat. Make sure meat pieces are no larger than the size of a soup spoon. (If preparing soup the next day, be sure to store leftover turkey meat in an airtight container before placing it in the refrigerator, top with 1 or 2 ladles full of broth to keep meat moist.)

Before straining broth, remove large bones and carcass with tongs. Strain the broth through a sieve, covered with wet cheese cloth. Discard the solids. Transfer broth to a bowl set in a bath of ice water, which will cool the broth quickly and help keep it fresher longer. This can be done the night before and stored in the refrigerator until the next day.

In a large soup pot, heat garlic cloves in the olive oil. Allow to brown slightly and add minced carrots, celery, and onion. Sweat over medium-low heat until softened, about 7 or 8 minutes.

Dice the leftover vegetables.  Add the chopped sage to the soup pot along with the turkey broth and the remaining bay leaf. Bring to a simmer. When simmering, add diced leftover vegetables and diced turkey meat to the soup. Bring it back up to a simmer. Turn the heat off and cover. Allow to sit and steam for 5 to 7 minutes.

Let simmer for 5 more minutes.  Serve over rice or with drop biscuits.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week! Remember to visit our Thanksgiving food blog hop too!



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Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Turkey Cookie Craft

PhotobucketThanksgiving has come and gone and though most of my readers are focused on another a holiday in the midst of Black Friday frenzy, I wanted to share an edible turkey craft that I made with my seven year old’s class while Thanksgiving is still fresh on the brain digesting.  You will want to bookmark, pin and file away this edible turkey craft idea for next Thanksgiving.

After Halloween, I bought several bags of candy corn on clearance with the specific purpose to make some kind of edible craft with my kids.  Funny enough, as one of the homeroom moms, I was in charge of a craft for our Thanksgiving feast.

With a quick Google search, I tried to remember how to make an edible turkey with Oreo cookies, however, the Oreo turkeys I found weren’t exactly what I wanted.  So, I decided to combine a few of the ideas I found and I came up with this.

Of course, the kids gobbled up the fun.

Turkey Cookie Craft
Ingredients
Golden Double Stuff Oreos
Nutter Butter Bites
Harvest Mix Candy Corn
Pretzel sticks
1 tub of white icing
1 tube black decorating icing gel
1 tube red decorating icing gel

Directions
Gently add the turkey’s tail feathers by wedging in the four brown-colored candy corn into the Oreo middle between the two cookies.  (You could also gently remove the top cookie.)

For the turkey’s legs, snap one pretzel stick in half and gently add the sticks into the opposite end of the candy corn.  (If you pulled off top of the Oreo, add a small amount icing and reapply the cookie.)

Add a small amount of icing to backside of a Nutter Butter Bite and “glue” the cookie to Oreo.  Add a small amount of icing to a yellow candy corn and “glue” it to the mini Nutter Butter.

Using the black decorating icing gel, add two eyes.  Then, add a wattle using the red decorating icing gel.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week! 



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Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Roasted Veggies

I’ve shared my roasted veggies before, but I’ve never shared them like this.

I began making these veggies about fifteen years ago when I was a vegetarian and I still enjoy these veggies as a main dish, served on a bed couscous or sandwiched between crunchy Cuban bread with a shmear of goat cheese.

Although there are so many variations to how you can do this dish, I stick with the simple squash varieties that my family likes.  For additional greens, toss in some asparagus tips or add some sliced fennel for a more complex, rich fall flavor.

No matter what you toss in, these roasted veggies are a wonderful side dish for Thanksgiving and the leftovers make the best veggie omelets.

Roasted Veggies
Ingredients
Juice of one lemon
¼ cup olive oil
1 tsp thyme
1 tsp kosher salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
¼ tsp crushed red pepper flakes
4 garlic cloves minced
½ red onion, chopped
1 pint white or Baby Bella mushrooms
1 eggplant
2 zucchini
2 yellow squash

Directions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk the lemon juice, olive, garlic, thyme, salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
Cut the eggplant lengthwise twice to quarter the eggplant.  Then, slice the eggplant into 2-inch chunks.  Toss into bowl with lemon juice marinade.

Slice the zucchini and yellow squash into 1-inch slices and toss in bowl.

Add chopped onions and mushrooms to bowl.  (Depending on the size of the mushrooms, cut into halves or leave whole.)  Toss all veggies until well covered in lemon juice marinade.

Prepare a baking sheet with cooking spray.  Arrange veggies evenly on baking sheet.  Bake for about 20-30 minutes.  For more charred veggies, bake longer or broil veggies for one minute.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week! Remember to visit our Thanksgiving food blog hop too!


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Denise Mestanza-Taylor+

Ground Turkey Tacos

PhotobucketI’ve included Ground Turkey Tacos a few times in my weekly Sunday menu planning feature, Pinning and Planning , but after making my tacos this week, it dawned on me that I should share my taco recipe.  See, I don’t make your typical taco kit tacos.

For most families, tacos are a quick family favorite, kid-approved dinner, but most people use taco seasoning packets located in the ethnic aisle of a supermarket.  Just to be clear, you’re not saving any time or your health using packaged seasonings.  If you’re using a package to make your tacos, you need to stop that immediately and here’s why.  Below are the ingredients for the top two taco seasonings.

El Paso  – “Maltodextrin, salt, chili pepper, onion powder, spice, monosodium glutamate, corn starch, yellow corn flour, partially hydrogenated soybean oil, silicon dioxide (anticaking agent), natural flavor, ethoxyquin (preservative)”

OretegaYellow Corn Flour, Salt, Maltodextrin, Paprika, Spices, Modified Corn Starch, Sugar, Garlic Powder, Citric Acid, Autolyzed Yeast Extract, Natural Flavor, Caramel Color (sulfites).

In case you weren’t aware, Autolyzed Yeast Extract is code for MSG.

As for taco shells, my favorite are the Garden of Eatin’ Yellow Corn Taco Shells.  They typically cost about a dollar more than the popular taco shell brands, however, they do not contain any hydrogenated oil.  Plus, they have a deliciously strong, real, rich corn taste, which should come as no surprise when you read the ingredients.

“Organic stoneground yellow corn masa flour, expeller pressed high oleic safflower and/or sunflower oil.”

Now, promise me that you will start making healthier tacos by following my recipe.  If you can’t find healthy taco shells, that’s all right.  At least with these MSG-free turkey tacos, you’re moving in the right direction.

Ground Turkey Tacos

Ingredients
2 Tbsp olive oil
1 lb lean ground turkey
2 garlic cloves, minced
½ onion (Spanish, red or white), chopped
1 Tbsp chili powder
2 tsp ground cumin
2 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp salt
½ tsp ground black pepper
1 cup Pomi chopped tomatoes
Garden of Eatin’ Yellow Corn Taco Shells

For toppings
Romaine lettuce, shredded
Vine ripe tomatoes, diced
Reduced fat cheddar cheese
Reduced fat sour cream
Lindsay’s Natural Sliced Ripe Black Olives

Directions
On a low to medium setting, heat olive oil in a large skillet.  Add onion and sauté until soft, about 5 minutes.  Add garlic and sauté for about a minute.

Add ground turkey and cook for about 5 minutes, stirring and breaking it up until white.  Add spices, salt and pepper and stir for about a minute.  Add tomatoes.

Prepare tacos are directed on box.

Serve the meat and  all the toppings family-style in bowls for everyone to make their own tacos.

Thanks for joining our weekly Friday Food Fight! Can’t wait to see what everyone is flinging this week!



*Also submitted at*

Denise Mestanza-Taylor+