Wingin’ It Wednesday: Chicken Soup with Rice

Chicken Soup with Rice 17

This is a “quick” soup in that I didn’t spend all day simmering it on the stove, but it still took a little bit of time, as all good soups do. I was cleaning out the freezer when I found a bag of 5 chicken drumsticks that needed something done to them, so I dragged them out, defrosted them, and dusted them with salt and pepper in a baking dish.

Chicken Soup with Rice 1

I roasted them at 350°F for about 40 minutes.

Chicken Soup with Rice 2

Make sure that the juices are running clear and the flesh is cooked all the way through. Soup that gives you salmonella is not good soup.

Chicken Soup with Rice 3

I let them cool, then pulled all the meat off the bones and set the meat aside in a bowl for a while.

Chicken Soup with Rice 9

I took all the skin and bones and chucked them into a large pot with some concentrated chicken broth and about 8 cups water and I let that simmer for about an hour.

Chicken Soup with Rice 5

Then I used a slotted spoon to remove the skin and bones from the pot.

Chicken Soup with Rice 10

I grabbed myself some vegetables. You always need vegetables in soup.

Chicken Soup with Rice 7

I also had about 2 cups cooked brown rice leftover from a canine digestive issue that needed getting rid of.

Chicken Soup with Rice 8
Flickr would not let me upload this picture until I cropped it and added contrast and vignetting. Apparently an unedited picture of leftover rice does not count as a valid photo to the Flickr Uploadr people.

All the goodness in your carrots is in the skin, so if you’re putting them in a soup, consider just giving them a good scrubbing instead of peeling them, then slice them up. Three carrots went under the knife for this recipe.

Chicken Soup with Rice 11

Green onions, on the other hand, are cleanest if you remove all the outer layers and wash them thoroughly. I used 2 green onions here.

Chicken Soup with Rice 12

I only used half an onion in this recipe, because I wasn’t making that much soup. Did you know that an onion is less likely to make you cry if it’s come out of the fridge? The cold slows down the chemical reaction that releases the eye irritant into the air.

Chicken Soup with Rice 13

I chucked all the vegetables and rice into the steamy broth and then diced up the chicken meat before chucking it in as well.

Chicken Soup with Rice 14

My compost bin earned some new additions.

Chicken Soup with Rice 15

Let the soup simmer for about 20 minutes, until the vegetables are softened, and then serve it hot. Possibly with biscuits. It’s up to you.

Chicken Soup with Rice 16

A Dilly Dish

Dilly Dish 3

I’m sure you experience this, same as the rest of us: you don’t want to create a fancy side for your weekday meal but you want something slightly more interesting than the merely steamed vegetables sitting on your plate.  Well here is your solution.

One evening I was preparing our evening meal, spiced chicken thighs with frozen corn, frozen peas, and basmati rice on the side.  Rather than serve all those vegetables and grains separate, I had an idea.  Just steps from my parents’ front door are several tall dill plants.

Dilly Dish 4

I cut off some of the leaves, which kind of resemble fennell, and brought them inside.

Dilly Dish 6

I combined the rice, peas, and corn, added some butter and salt and pepper, and stirred in the dill, chopped, and served it hot.  It made a nice little base for the chicken and a slight refresher on what could have been a ho-hum meal.

Dilly Dish 2

Wingin’ it Wednesday: Oliver’s Stew

Oliver's Stew 16

Sometimes things don’t always work out exactly how you want them to.  But that’s okay, because you can learn from what you’ve done and move on.  So while this recipe was a little bland for my liking, I’m sure with the right combination of spices it would make a great mid-winter slow-cooker bowl of comfort.  I called it “Oliver’s Stew” because it has a gruel-like consistency that reminded me so much of the musical based on Charles Dickens’ novel Oliver Twist, specifically, this song. Nonetheless, I know some of you out there like your stews to be on the mushy side, so maybe this one is for you.

I started with some chicken thighs, and pulled the skin off them. There are only a few people in the world I will handle raw chicken for. The Pie is lucky to be one of them.

Oliver's Stew 1

Then I quickly browned them in a cast iron skillet.

Oliver's Stew 2

Cut up an onion and some garlic.

Oliver's Stew 3

And gathered some herbs: mustard, rosemary, and savoury.

Oliver's Stew 6

A red pepper.

Oliver's Stew 8

Some chick peas.

Oliver's Stew 9

Some rice.

Oliver's Stew 10

And some chicken broth.

Oliver's Stew 11

I hucked that all in the slow cooker with some salt and pepper and let ‘er rip. I ended up adding more liquid later on as it all got sucked into the rice.

Oliver's Stew 12

Shortly before serving I added some frozen corn and peas for colour.

Oliver's Stew 13

And there you have it — the chicken has fallen off the bone and lays in these lovely strips and the peas and corn and pepper add a nice pop of colour.

Oliver's Stew 14

Life-Changing Burritos

Life-Changing Burritos

I know.  We just had a burrito post recently.  But when we were in Portland, and I was busy doing wedding related things with Doodle and the other bridesmaids, the Pie was often left to his own devices.  Luckily, Portland is a very walkable city, and there was a good Street Fighter tournament on the web for him to watch when he got bored with walking about.  One afternoon, he happened upon a place called the Burrito Bar.  The burrito he had there, according to him, changed his life forever.  So last week, he recreated what he had eaten there and I got to enjoy it as well. Plus, we had to do something about our raging onion population.

Life-Changing Burritos

First, he started by making up a batch of his famous Mexican rice.

Life-Changing Burritos

While he was doing that he gently poached 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then he put me to work as his sous-chef.  I had to make the “salad” component.  First, I opened up an avocado.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then I cubed it.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then I found a tomato.

Life-Changing Burritos

And cubed that as well.

Life-Changing Burritos

Chopped up a handful of cilantro and added that in, as well as some salt and pepper and lime juice.

Life-Changing Burritos

Toss that and set it aside.

Life-Changing Burritos

Open up a can of black beans and drain and rinse them well.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then he had me finely chop a jalapeno pepper, to go in his cheese sauce.

Life-Changing Burritos

Life-Changing Burritos

The cheese sauce is made by melting a tablespoon butter with a tablespoon flour to form a paste, then adding a half cup of milk.  When that is well-mixed you can add your grated cheese, about 1 1/2 cups.  The Pie used a mixture of old cheddar and spicy Monterey jack.

Life-Changing Burritos

Once the cheese was melted he dropped in the jalapenos and let that sit for a bit.

Life-Changing Burritos

At this point the chicken was ready to be shredded. Just pull it apart with some forks. It’s pretty fun.

Life-Changing Burritos

We added a few tablespoons salsa to the chicken.

Life-Changing Burritos

So now we are ready to make these burritos, baby.  We have Mexican rice, salad, salsa-y chicken, black beans, cheese sauce, and some sour cream as well.

Life-Changing Burritos

You’re going to need the biggest flour tortillas you can find.  These ones are ten inches, though the Pie says the one he had in Portland was THIRTEEN inches.  Set your tortillas on a sheet of aluminum foil.

Life-Changing Burritos

Start piling on your ingredients in the centre of your tortilla.  Be generous.

Life-Changing Burritos

To properly fold a burrito, we looked to the internet.  If you’re not sure, try YouTube.

Life-Changing Burritos

Take the opposite side of your tortilla and bring it towards you, so the ingredients get all jumbled together and pushed to one side. This also leaves a bit of food sauce on the empty side of the tortilla, which provides a bit of friction to keep things stuck together.

Life-Changing Burritos

Unfold the tortilla and lift up the sides, to sort of hold everything in. Take the side of the tortilla closest to you, with all the ingredients, and flip it up and over on itself.

Life-Changing Burritos

Then, tucking in the top of the tortilla, start rolling towards the end.  Try to get it as tight as possible.

Life-Changing Burritos

Make sure your ends are tucked in and slide the rolled tortilla to one side of your aluminum foil.

Life-Changing Burritos

Tightly roll the burrito up in the foil, and twist off the ends when you are finished, to hold everything together.  That is your burrito, all wrapped up.  We had enough ingredients to make seven of these puppies, and we tossed a few in the fridge for a later meal, and a few in the oven for about ten minutes to heat up a bit.

Life-Changing Burritos

To eat, just peel off some of the foil and you are all set. Take a bite.

Life-Changing Burritos

This is one of the burritos the next day, cut in half.  Look at that lovely combination of ingredients!

Life-Changing Burritos

Cardigan Cozy

Cardigan Cozy

We know that I’ve done things with cardigans, and I’ve done things with cozies.  And now for something completely different.

My mother is an artist, and she spends many long hours perched in her chair, leaning over her drafting table. That can lead to a sore back after a day of drawing, and, in the wintertime, a cold backside.

In her living room, she has a new fireplace, and so spends a lot of time cozied up to the flames.  But upstairs in the studio she has no such luck.

Now, this sweater was knitted for her by my grandmother eons ago.  It no longer fit her, so she gave it to me, because it’s beautiful.  She even switched all the buttons for me and make all the buttonholes fit properly with the new hardware.

Cardigan Cozy

Alas, I’m a little longer in the torso than my mother and so the cardigan doesn’t suit me at all.

But here’s my idea.  We all know about “magic” bags, those sacks filled with buckwheat or rice that you microwave that keep you toasty.  The Pie and I use them nearly every night in the winter, to heat up the foot of our bed.

Why not turn this cardigan into a heating pad that will fit on the back of the chair?  It will slide over the back of most, and for the ones where it doesn’t, well, you can always use the arms of the sweater to hold it in place, right?

Cardigan Cozy

So first I had to come up with the heating pad itself, because I’m not going to stick this sweater in the microwave.  This heating pad is going to be removable, something I can button inside the cardigan.

What I need is a big, flat, rectangle, which I will fill with rice.  To keep the rice from falling to the bottom when the pad is in place inside the sweater, I’m going to sew it into little pockets.  I’m basically quilting, but instead of using batting, I’m using rice.

Cardigan Cozy

To make the bag, I measured (roughly) the inside of the sweater.

Cardigan Cozy

Then I cut out a square of folded fabric.

Cardigan Cozy

It was my goal to sew ribbon loops into the four corners to serve as button holes.  I messed it up, but I also fixed it later.

Cardigan Cozy

So here I am, sewing up three sides of the folded cloth, including the fold side.

Cardigan Cozy

Turn it inside out, and sew again to create the frame for the rice.

Cardigan Cozy

Sew up towards the opening, in equal spacing.  These will be the columns for the rice.

Cardigan Cozy

I scooped 1/3 cup uncooked rice into each column.

Cardigan Cozy

Then pinned each column shut.

Cardigan Cozy

And sewed it up — to make a quilted pocket.

Cardigan Cozy

Continue that way all the way up.

Cardigan Cozy

The finished pockets.

Cardigan Cozy

Then I sealed the top, added some more loops of ribbons to attach to more buttons, and sewed that under.

Cardigan Cozy

Now, because I’d made the loops too small, I used the loops instead as an anchor for another ribbon, which I tied around the buttons, which I of course sewed into the sweater.

Cardigan Cozy

I used extra buttons along the top edge because I was concerned about the weight.  All that rice is nearly 4lb!

Cardigan Cozy

Then I sewed a velvet ribbon into each of the sleeves so that I could tie them together and they wouldn’t dangle.  I figure if this cozy ever goes onto a chair where it can’t slide over the back, you can always use the ribbons to tie the arms to the chair.

Cardigan Cozy

So here it is on a chair.  Gren is not impressed. He’s a hard one to please.

Cardigan Cozy

My mother’s studio chair is a bit more substantial, more like my office chair.  So here is how it looks from the back.

Cardigan Cozy

And the front.  Cozy, huh?

Cardigan Cozy

Chicken Fried Rice … for Danger K

Chicken Fried Rice

I got a tweet on Friday from Danger K over at Project: Priceless, looking for a good fried rice recipe.  We happen to have one.  Actually, the Pie has one, which he modified himself from one of our many stir-fry books.  We make this one with chicken, but you can leave that out for a vegetarian option.  If you want to go vegan, you can leave out the egg as well.

So this is what you need:

Half an onion, diced.

Chicken Fried Rice

A boneless, skinless chicken breast, cubed.  Add a splash of soy sauce to that.

Chicken Fried Rice

An egg, beaten.

Chicken Fried Rice

Two carrots, peeled and diced.

Chicken Fried Rice

About one cup peas.  These are defrosted frozen ones.

Chicken Fried Rice

A pinch or two of sliced green onion.

Chicken Fried Rice

About two cups cooked rice, cold.  Preferably a day or two old.  The rice needs to be dry and no longer sticky.

Chicken Fried Rice

In a large frying pan or wok, heat a tablespoon oil with a tablespoon minced garlic on medium heat.  Chuck in the onions and cook until they’re translucent.

Chicken Fried Rice

Toss in the chicken and stir until the chicken is cooked through.

Chicken Fried Rice

Make a well in the middle and pour in the beaten egg in a thin layer. Allow it to cook through and then break it up with your spatula and mix it in.

Chicken Fried Rice

Add in all the vegetables and heat through, then add the rice and stir to mix.  Splash in some more soy sauce to taste.  When everything is heated up to your satisfaction, you can serve it.  And it’s as simple as that!

Chicken Fried Rice

Roasted Chicken and Rice Soup

Roasted Chicken and Rice Soup

So I made a roasted chicken to go with our poutine from earlier, and the Pie and I ended up, in the events of that week, forgetting about the leftovers completely.

So let’s make some soup for those busy periods in our lives (which, this term, is pretty much every day).

Pop your carcass and any other bits of chicken you have, skin, bones, everything, in a large pot.  Cover it with 1 litre chicken stock and the rest with water.  Bring that to a boil and reduce the heat to a simmer.  Let that bubble away for about an hour.

Roasted Chicken and Rice Soup

Remove the pot from the heat.  Set a large colander in a larger bowl and pour the contents of the pot into the colander.  This makes getting the wee bits of non-meat out of the broth easy.

Roasted Chicken and Rice Soup

Pour the strained broth back into the pot.  Strip the chicken of bits that you want in your soup, and chuck those bits in with the broth.

Roasted Chicken and Rice Soup

Chop 1 carrot and 1 onion and add those in.

Roasted Chicken and Rice Soup

Add 1 cup rice.

Roasted Chicken and Rice Soup

I was going to add a can of tomatoes to this, but it turned out I didn’t have any (which was kind of a shocker, considering that I normally have about four on hand).  Instead, I had a little over 1 cup pumpkin purée, left from the Pie’s first attempt at pumpkin pie, so I added that in.

Roasted Chicken and Rice Soup

Sprinkle on some herbs (I used oregano) and add salt and pepper.  I also added a pinch or two of chipotle seasoning.

Roasted Chicken and Rice Soup

Put your pot back on the heat and simmer it for about half an hour, until the rice is cooked and the carrots are tender and everything is hot and yummy.  Taste, and adjust your seasonings if necessary.

Roasted Chicken and Rice Soup

Serve hot or freeze for later on.  It’s that simple!

Roasted Chicken and Rice Soup

Tofu Feature Month: Mapo Tofu

Mapo Tofu

I FINALLY found silken tofu in St. John’s.  I’ve been looking for it for what feels like forever.  In celebration of my recent discovery, and the Pie’s insistence that he needs to slim down in time for Kristopf’s wedding next July, I have decided to honour the long-standing request of my friend Danger K and start finding new ways to cook with tofu.  You might know Danger K: she recently got married (on our wedding anniversary, no less), and she and her husband planned a big fancy wedding by begging, bartering, and borrowing everything they could.  Their expenses out of pocket?  About two hundred bucks.  You can read about the process on their blog, Project Priceless.  So they’re a little bit famous back in Ottawa.  And I can say that I knew her when.  We went to high school together.  In fact, she had a huge crush on one of my brothers (DON’T DENY IT DANGER K I HAVE PROOF).  Not that I’m going to hold that against her or anything.

Mapo Tofu

So.  Cooking with tofu.

My previous experiences cooking with tofu (not in eating it, just cooking it) focused mainly on tossing cubes of it into Broccofu, Peanut Butter Spaghetti, or the occasional stir-fry.  There’s nothing wrong with that, but’s not using tofu in all its myriad manifestations.  This fall, the Pie and I aim to change our ways, and this recipe is the beginning.  September will be a sort of Tofu Feature Month.

Mapo doufu (mapo tofu) is a traditional spicy dish from the Sichuan province of China and involves sautéing tofu pieces in a suspension of a paste made of beans and chilis.  What I found particularly interesting about this dish is that I normally think of tofu as a protein-replacement for meat, but this recipe calls for a combination of tofu AND beef or pork.  Very unique (for me, at least).

Mapo Tofu

A note on substitutions:  this recipe calls for chili bean paste, a spicy gooey mixture of fermented soy beans and chilis (I’m thinking like a super-hot miso).  I didn’t have such a thing, so I used black bean paste instead with the chilis, which is why my sauce isn’t that signature reddish colour.  The recipe also requires the use of rice wine, which, not being a wine-drinker, I also don’t have, so we used rice wine vinegar instead.  Finally, the recipe I used made little sense and required some serious moderation, so I haven’t linked you to it.   I wasn’t a huge fan.

Start by making up enough rice for two people.

Mapo Tofu

Drain and pat dry one block soft tofu (I used extra-firm silken tofu because I wanted to see what it was like).  Cut it into 1″ cubes.

Mapo Tofu

Slice up 4-5 green onions and save about 1/4 of the green tips (sliced) for garnish.

Mapo Tofu

In a skillet or wok over medium heat, heat 2 tablespoons vegetable oil and sauté 4oz ground beef or pork until cooked.  Drain and set aside.

In the same pan, heat 1 tablespoon vegetable oil.  Add 1 teaspoon minced ginger, the green onion that isn’t what you saved for garnish, 2 whole dried chilis, and 1 teaspoon ground peppercorns (Sichuan if you’ve got ’em).  Cook that for about a minute.

Mapo Tofu

Add the ground meat back in, as well as 3 tablespoons chili bean paste, 2 teaspoons minced garlic, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon rice wine, and 2 teaspoons brown sugar.  Cook that for another minute or so, just so everything can get acquainted.

Mapo Tofu

Add in the cubed tofu as well as 1/4 cup vegetable stock (or beef, or pork) and let that simmer for 15 minutes.   Stir occasionally, but don’t let the tofu fall apart.

Mapo Tofu

When it’s nearing done, dissolve 1 tablespoon corn starch in a little bit of water and pour that in as well.  Stir gently until it thickens.

Mapo Tofu

Serve over rice and garnish with the remaining green onions.  SPICY!

Mapo Tofu

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Thanks to everyone who stopped by on Friday and over the weekend from Freshly Pressed, and thanks for all your great comments!Sausage Stuffed Peppers

This is a strange experience.  I’m actually eating this meal (leftover) as I blog about it.  I have already gotten rice on the keyboard.  This is one of those recipes I wrote down as a child in my magic recipe book and which I haven’t made in twenty years.  But it was also another one of those if-I-have-to-eat-plain-sausage-AGAIN-I-will-throw-something nights so, it had to be done.  And of course I changed it around a bit.
Sausage Stuffed Peppers

First you take 4 red peppers, wash them, and cut the tops off.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Pull out all the guts.  If you wish, you can parboil them for a few minutes at this stage but I like my veggies crisp so I left them raw.  Spray a small oven-proof dish and pile them all in, open side up.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Preheat your oven to 350°F and cook up 1 cup of rice, or enough that you come up with 2 cups cooked rice when you’re done.

I made the mistake here of chopping up 1 large onion.  What you should really do is chop up 1 medium or small onion.  Plop those in a saucepan with some olive oil.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Squeeze the meat out of 1lb sausage (I used about a third less, and with the extra onion, mine ended up a little meh) and add them, together with a few teaspoons minced garlic, to the onions.  Sauté those until the onions are tender and the sausage is broken up into little bits and fully cooked.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Stir in the cooked rice.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Melt 3 tablespoons butter and add it to 1/2 cup bread crumbs.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Stir that around.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Stuff each pepper with as much of the rice-sausage mixture as will fit.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Squish it down a little at the top to make a shallow depression.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

If you have extra rice, put it in a casserole dish.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Open up a can of diced tomatoes.  Spoon on a few pieces of tomato, enough to cover the top of the pepper, and be generous with the juice.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Use more on your extra rice.  See how the tomato juice kind of percolates down?

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Top each pepper (and your casserole) with bread crumbs.

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Bake for 30-40 minutes, or until everything is all bubbly and the bread crumbs are brown.  Serve hot!

Sausage Stuffed Peppers

Sausage Risotto with Broccoli and Mushrooms

I really like risotto.  In fact, it’s one of my favourite starchy sides.  So why has it been ages (over a year) since I last made it?  Hard to say.  It’s not like it’s hard to make risotto.

The Pie really likes sausages, and they’re cheap here, so we eat them often.  I am not such a huge fan.  On this particular night, I decided that if I had to slice through another meat-and-two-veg meal with slippery hot sausages as the main attraction I might throw something at my husband.  And I like him, so I wanted to avoid such a situation.

The basic principle of risotto making is the constant adding of more and more liquid, stirring as you go.  This brings out the naturally creamy nature of the arborio rice.  If you find a recipe that tells you to add cream to your risotto while it’s cooking, then the authors don’t know how to cook it right.  The creaminess comes by itself, and don’t let anybody tell you anything different.

The traditional method for making risotto involves adding one part white wine to the mix, then three parts water, gradually.  Today we are going to use straight chicken broth instead.

Squeeze the meat out of 3 hot Italian sausages and plop that in a pan.

Slice up about 8oz mushrooms of your choosing.  You can chuck those in the pan with the sausages.  I suppose if you wanted to do it right you would saute each of those things separately, but when do I ever follow the rules?

Dice 1 whole onion and put that in a saucepan with a dab of olive oil.  Set that to sautéing, stirring occasionally, until the onion pieces are translucent.

While that is cooking, sauté the mushrooms and sausage as well.  Break up the sausage with a spatula as it cooks, until you just have little sausage-y bits. 

Drain off any juices and fat and keep warm.  We also had about 2 cups frozen steamed broccoli hanging around, so I popped that in the pan as well to thaw.

Pour 1 cup arborio rice into the onions.

Add 1 cup hot chicken broth (low sodium) to the rice and onions and cook on high heat, stirring often, until the liquid is absorbed.

Add a further 3 cups hot chicken broth, one at a time, stirring in each one until fully absorbed.  The whole process should take about 20 minutes and leave you with a lovely creamy rice.

Season the risotto with salt and pepper.  Stir in about 2 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup grated romano cheese.

Dump in your sausage/mushroom/broccoli mixture and stir well.

Serve hot, garnished with more grated romano.  Makes great leftovers.