Chicken Soup a la Alexis

Chicken Soup A La Alexis

“Mommy I want to make some chicken soup.”

“OK.”

“And I want it to have big chunks of chicken.”

“Anything else?”

“And salt, pepper, peas, corn, onion and leeks.”

“Is that all?”

“Oh and egg noodles!”

“Sounds good.”

“And when we get finished I want you to take a picture of my soup and put it on your ‘bog’!”

So we made some soup just as she asked and I’m sharing it with you now. Why stifle creativity? ;o)

What You’ll Need:
Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 small carrot, chopped
1 leek, chopped
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 boneless skinless chicken breast
At least 1 quart of chicken broth
1 cup of frozen peas
1 cup of frozen corn
1-2 cups of whole grain egg noodles

Saute onion, carrot and leek with a pinch of sea salt until onions are tender. Add chicken breasts and chicken broth and cook until chicken is done through. Remove from soup and cut the chicken into chunks and then return to broth. Add peas and corn and cook until they are unfrozen (about 5 more minutes). Add noodles and cook until tender. Serve immediately.

Notes: Thyme would be a good addition to this soup. Any other veggies you wanted to add in would be good as well.

Wasabi Mustard Slaw

Wasabi Mustard Slaw

This is a spicy take on classic slaw, that cuts out the mayo and spices up the ingredients making it healthier overall and also adding a bit of a kick, but it’s oh so delicious. Sometimes it’s fun to play with a classic and make something totally new and if that creation is lighter than the original then all the better!

What You’ll Need:
1/4 a head of cabbage, cut or shredded (Note: You’re looking for roughly 2 cups.)
1/4 a head of red cabbage, cut or shredded (Notes: Again roughly 2 cups.)
1 large carrot, shredded
1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil
3/4 cup of rice vinegar
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons of wasabi mustard (Note: I you can’t find wasabi mustard you could use 2 tablespoons of dijon mustard and 1 teaspoon of wasabi.)

Wasabi Mustard Slaw: Vegetables

Toss together the cabbages and the carrot until completely incorporated. Set aside.

Wasabi Mustard Slaw: Dressing

In a small canning jar (or you can use a bowl and whisk if you want, but I think it’s easier to put it in the jar and then shake!) add olive oil, vinegar, sea salt, pepper and wasabi mustard and put a lid on the jar. Shake until all ingredients are mixed then pour the vinegar mixture over the cabbage mixture and toss to coat. Chill for 1 hour and then serve.

Notes: I was going to add a couple of tablespoons of celery seed, but I was out. This slaw is best served the day it is made as the vinegar content makes it wilt quickly if stored for too long. Also the red cabbage tends to lose it’s color the longer it’s in vinegar, though it won’t change the flavor of the slaw itself, you might just end up with reddish purple dressing.

Baked Vegetables Chips with Dill

Baked Vegetable Chips With Dill

I have to admit I’m not a big fan of the conventional potato chip. They have always been too greasy and heavy for me. I do however like a good baked chip and decided to try my hand at making some baked vegetable chips. The result was heavenly!

This is the perfect, healthy alternative to regular old potato chips. You control the ingredients and the amount of fat you add, yet you end up with a crisp, satisfying chip that you’ll want to make again! These chips are just perfect when you want to crunch! ūüėČ

What You’ll Need:
Root vegetables (Note: For this batch I used a sweet potato, a large carrot and a rutabaga.)
Dried dill (Note: If dill isn’t your thing you could use any other dried herb you like or leave out the herbs all together.)
Sea salt
Black pepper (Note: For this you want finely ground black pepper.)
Olive oil spray or other non-stick spray

Preheat oven to 200 F.

Thinly slice each vegetable into rounds. (Note: You can do this with a knife or a mandolin cutter. If you use the latter you can even make crinkle cuts.) Place cut veggies on a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a silicone baking sheet. Spray generously with olive oil or non-stick spray. Sprinkle with dill, sea salt and pepper.

Place try into your oven on the highest rack and bake for 1 hour. (Note: Keep an eye on the chips and make sure they aren’t burning. If they appear too brown then lower them to a lower rack. The sweet potato will turn a lovely chocolate color as it bakes, but that doesn’t mean it’s burning.) After an hour move the pan to a lower rack and cook for an additional 30 minutes to an hour until chips are crisp. Remove from oven and let chips cool on the pan. Store in an air tight container.

Baked Vegetable Chips With Dill

Notes: The chips are really best served the day they are made. If they soften up a bit when you store them you can re-crisp them by putting them back in the oven for a bit.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles

For Valentine’s Day Jamison had one request…”Make me some chocolate!” Last year I made him these chocolates, but I wanted to do something a little different this year. I started thinking about it and decided that it would be nice to combine his love for peanut butter with chocolate once again and the idea for Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles was born!

Overall I was very pleased with how this recipe turned out. The peanut butter and chocolate of course complimented each other perfect and the undertone of vanilla gave it just the right touch. I shaped a few of them as hearts as you can see above, but any way you make them they are divine! If you have a truffle lover in your life (in my case me) and a chocolate/peanut butter lover (again here that would be Jamison) this is the recipe for you!

What You’ll Need:
1 pint of heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, cut in half and scraped
3 – 11.5 ounce packages of milk chocolate chips (Note: I used Ghirardelli.)
6 tablespoons of dried peanut butter powder (Note: I found a product called PB2 and heard raves about it so I decided to try it. The product is made from roasted peanuts that have had the oils removed. 2 tablespoons of the powder reliquefied with water makes the equivalent of roughly 1 tablespoon of peanut butter. It has 75% less fat than regular peanut butter, which given this recipe is a moot point, but it’s just perfect for truffles because it doesn’t really change the consistency of the chocolate! Also this stuff is awesome in and of itself! I highly recommend this product if you like peanut butter and want a lighter option that doesn’t taste weird! It makes a mean peanut butter sandwich too!)
Chopped peanuts (optional)
~or~
1/2 cup powdered sugar and 1/2 cup of cocoa mixed, for rolling (optional)

Put the chocolate chips in a large glass bowl and set aside.

Place the heavy cream in a medium sized sauce pan. Cut a vanilla bean in half and scrape out the seeds into the heavy cream. Put the cut bean into the heavy cream as well and bring to a quick boil. Remove the vanilla bean and pour heated heavy cream over chocolate chips and stir until chocolate chips are melted and mixture is creamy. Stir in the peanut butter powder and mix until completely incorporated. Sit the bowl aside at room temperature and let the chocolate mixture become firm, yet still scoopable. You want to consistency of ice cream at this point. This can take several hours.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles: First Scoop

Once the chocolate mixture has set up scoop out round balls with a tablespoon or a melon baller. Don’t worry when you scoop them out they won’t necessarily but round at this point. You’ll make them more round in the next step. (See above.) Put on a baking pan that has been lined with waxed paper or a silicone baking sheet. Let them sit for about 30 minutes.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles: With Chopped Peanuts

At the end of thirty minutes roll the ball briefly between your palms to ensure a mostly round truffle. You aren’t looking for a perfect sphere, just a general round shape. If desired roll in chopped peanuts or a powdered sugar/cocoa mixture. Store in the fridge or in a cool dark place.

Milk Chocolate Peanut Butter Truffles: With Powdered Sugar and Cocoa

Notes: You could roll the truffles in something else if you liked, such as coconut, or even leaven them unadorned.

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Peanut Butter Ice Cream

Jamison and Alexis are both avid peanut butter people.¬† I mean seriously, if peanut butter ceased to exist the world might just cease to exist for the two of them, as far as they are concerned.¬† I too enjoy peanut butter, but truth be told almond butter, or more importantly cashew butter, are more up my alley.¬† Overall though, if you’re not allergic to peanuts, which we aren’t, then what’s not to like?

The other day my little sous chef asked me if anyone made peanut butter ice cream.¬† I told her that I’m sure someone out there did, but right off the top of my head I couldn’t think of anyone.¬† We got busy with other things and I forgot to do a little research to see what I could find.¬† The next day she asked me if we could make some peanut butter ice cream and since we hadn’t made any ice cream in a while we gave it a whirl.

Now let me tell you, if you like peanut butter, even the tiniest little bit, you will LOVE this ice cream!¬† It’s rich and creamy and there are little bits of peanut butter throughout the whole peanut buttery flavored ice cream itself that just burst in your mouth.¬† The ice cream itself would be superb topped with some hot fudge sauce, but even alone this is the very epitome of the peanut butter lovers dream!

P.S. Speaking of chocolate…If you haven’t gone over to Culinate yet to vote in their Death By Chocolate contest then¬†you should!¬† You could win a trip for two to Napa’s Chocolate Festival!¬† My entry was Hot Fudge Cake.

What You’ll Need for the Peanut Butter Ice Cream:
1 – 18 ounce jar of peanut butter
1 pint heavy whipping cream
1 pint half and half
1 – 14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1 cup of sugar
1 tablespoon of vanilla

In a large stock pot add all ingredients and cook until sugar and peanut butter are melted.  Remove from heat and let sit until the mixture cools to room temperature.  (Note: As the mixture cools the peanut butter may separate from the milk a bit, but you can easily stir it back into the mixture.  I stirred it several times as it was cooling and once before putting it in the ice cream maker.  Once in the ice cream maker the machine does the stirring for you!)  Once the mixture is cooled add to your ice cream maker and freeze according to your models operating instructions.  When it is finished you will have your basic soft serve ice cream and can serve it immediately.  Place the mixture into the freezer in a covered container to let harden fully if you prefer a more firm ice cream.  Thaw for a few minutes before serving.

Notes: Alexis wanted to add chocolate chips to the ice cream itself, but we couldn’t find mini-chocolate chips, as they work best in ice cream mixtures due to their small size.¬† (Do they make those anymore?¬† I haven’t looked for them in years!)¬† This ice cream is not low-fat or anything of that nature.¬† While I normally try to look at making things healthier, in this case this is an indulgence and as such should be enjoyed once in a while in moderation, but you know that drill! ūüėȬ† That being said if you wanted to lighten it up a bit you could use light cream, fat-free half and half and light peanut butter and it should all work fine, though it might freeze harder once you put it in the deep freeze. ¬†¬†Also this recipe is designed to be made in this ice cream freezer, but you could double it to go in a larger model.¬† In reality I ended up with a bit more (about a cup or so) than what my freezer would hold, but you could freeze that and use it later if you needed.

Taco Soup

Taco Soup

Want some tacos, but want a slightly healthier twist on the sometimes fat laden classic?¬† Why not make some taco soup?¬† This soup has all the elements of your basic taco, minus the corn shell, but with corn thrown in to give it that same taste.¬† Top it with a little light sour cream and light cheese and your taste buds will be convinced you’re eating a taco!

What You’ll Need:

Extra virgin olive oil
1 small onion, chopped
1 bell pepper, chopped
1/2 pound of lean ground beef or turkey (Note: If you want you can leave out the meat all together.  You could add in textured vegetable protein, soy crumbles or even just add some beans.)
A pinch of sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
1 teaspoon of garlic powder
1 tablespoon of cumin
1 tablespoon of chili powder
1 tablespoon of paprika
A pinch of cayenne pepper
1 1/2 cups of cooked red beans
1 – 28 ounce can of diced tomatoes
1 – 15 ounce can tomato sauce

In a large pot saute onion and bell pepper until just tender with a pinch of sea salt, black pepper, garlic powder, cumin, chili powder, paprika and a pinch of cayenne pepper.¬† (Note: You can add more cayenne or less depending on how hot you like things.¬† This is the same with the chili powder as well.)¬† Add ground beef or turkey¬†when the onions and peppers are about halfway done and cook until it is browned.¬† (Note: The light ground beef/turkey has little fat in it and usually doesn’t have to be drained.¬† If the meat you are using has a higher fat content then add the spices AFTER the meat is finished and drained.)¬† Stir in red beans, diced tomatoes and tomato sauce and cook for 30 minutes to 1 hour to let the flavors meld.¬† Serve warm.

Taco Soup

Notes: You could add in different types of beans if you want.¬† Black beans would be really good in this mix.¬† You could also add in some jalapenos if you like them or even cilantro, though I wouldn’t because I’m not a fan.