Category Archives: Main Dishes

Cauliflower Shrimp Fried Rice; AKA Cauli-Rice

Is there a more recognized American Chinese takeout dish than fried rice? I can’t think of one. Okay, well maybe Chow-Mein but today we’re talking rice.

Fried rice.

Delicious, yes. Healthy, not so much. Sadly traditional fried rice is loaded with sodium and high-carbohydrate, insulin spiking white rice. Not exactly top of the menu for anyone wishing to drop a few pounds or clean up their diet. Which is sad business if you are like me and absolutely love the stuff.

“The next time you’re at a Chinese restaurant, back away from the fried rice … many dishes are loaded with sodium, oil and carbs,” says Jayne Hurley, a senior nutritionist for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “Those dishes are basically three quarters of a day’s calories, and you’re just getting four or five cups of white rice with oil and a sprinkling of vegetables,” Hurley says. They’re especially dangerous because they’re often served alongside people’s main orders, she says, and deliver “not much more than a smattering of vegetables or protein from the meat.” Unhealthy Chinese Food Choices,

Bummer.

But all is not lost because in steps cauli-rice to the rescue. Cauli-rice is something I have been eating a lot of lately and am absolutely loving. If cauli-rice is unfamiliar to you, I am about to expand your healthy option horizons. What is it exactly? It is “rice”, made out of cauliflower.  Or cauliflower grated to mimic rice in just about everyway.

Did you just close your eyes, sigh and shake your head in a skeptical fashion?

Okay, you may not believe it but I am asking you to trust me here and go with me on this … it looks, tastes and acts like rice; except for the fact that it doesn’t raise your blood sugar and spike your insulin. Really, it does. Still skeptical? Here, let me prove it to you.

Cauliflower Shrimp Fried Rice

Ingredients

  • 1/2 large head of cauliflower, grated
  • 1/4 cup low-sodium chicken broth or stock
  • 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1/4 tsp. onion powder
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • 12 ounces shrimp, cooked, cleaned and chopped
  • 6 ounces cubed lean ham
  • 1 cup egg whites
  • Sea salt and pepper to taste
  • Scallions, chopped for garnish

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Directions

Chop your shrimp into small pieces.

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I thawed these pre-cooked and cleaned shrimp and then cut them into three pieces.

Use a box grater to grate raw cauliflower into “rice”.

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It is a messy business but well worth it!

Sauté the cauli-rice in chicken broth for 3 to 5 minutes.

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Add in the remaining ingredients, just to warm them, starting with the peas, then ham and shrimp and finally scrambling in the egg whites by making a well in the center of the rice and pouring them in. This will only take about another 5 minutes. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper.

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Top with a sprinkling of chopped scallions and a splash or Bragg Liquid Aminos in place of soy sauce (it tastes the same and is far better for you) and you’ll have a healthy shrimp fried rice dish that you can fill up on – guilt free!

If you are following the THM lifestyle, you know it is not always easy to come up with truly satisfying “FP” (fuel pull) or even “E” (energizing) meals. This fried rice fits the bill perfectly. I am an “S” loving girl and this has become one of my absolute favorite meals for lunch or dinner.

If you want to make it a bit more hearty, you can fry it up in a few tablespoons of coconut oil and use whole eggs for a satisfying S meal.

My goal with this dish was to make it as “Chinese takeout” authentic as possible. Put skepticism aside, give it a try and let me know how I did.

Enjoy!

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Baby Portabella Sliders

I have had my eye on these babies for a while. Baby portabellas that is. As the name would suggest, they are smaller than a full grown portabella but a bit bigger than a cremini. So technically, they are really more of an adolescent portabella.

Baby-Portabellas

So, while that very important distinction has been made, the question what to do with them? remains.

Hmmmm. Slice and sauté or stuff like a cremini? No.

Marinate and grill like a big portabella? No.

More creative. Must be more creative.

They are the perfect size to replace the burger in a slider.

No, that’s not it either. Think. Think. Think.

Does anyone else out there have similar conversations with yourself?

Okay, yes, but do you have them about mushrooms?

Marinate and grill. Burger. Slider. I like it but not the burger. The bun? Oh, now that is intriguing.

The bun. Hmmmm. Sliders with baby portabella mushroom buns.

No bread, low carb, sounds delicious. I like it. I like it very much.

Baby Portabella Sliders it is!

Now, who else should we invite to the party?

Blue-Cheese

Ahhhhh, blue cheese. My favorite party guest.

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And applewood smoked bacon. Come on in!

Let’s get this party started!

Baby Portabella Sliders

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Prepare slider sized burgers.

You can grill or pan fry them. Right now, it is about 482 degrees outside so I opted for the cast iron on my stovetop in my air-conditioned kitchen. If you are using ground beef at an 80/20 ratio, you don’t really need to do more to it than add a little salt and pepper. I had a leaner blend on hand so to one pound of ground beef, I added one egg as a binder and a dash of cream for moisture (about a tablespoon) along with a bit of freeze-dried parsley just for fun. Season on both sides with salt and pepper. As always, be sure your pan is good and hot before you put the meat in! I am a medium-rare kind of gal so I cooked the burgers on medium-high 4-5 minutes per side.

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For the “buns”, I pulled the stems out of the mushrooms and then brushed both sides of the caps with Drew’s Rosemary Balsamic Dressing (I absolutely love the stuff) and seasoned both sides with salt and pepper. Use whatever dressing you like or even just a bit of olive oil or coconut oil.

Frying-Portabellas

I adore my cast iron grill pan and it worked perfectly for “grilling” up the mushrooms. Make sure your pan is hot before you put the mushrooms in. I cooked them on medium-high for 2-3 minutes a side. Don’t move the mushrooms after you’ve turned them and you will end up with perfect grill marks.

Now, to build the sliders.

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I selected the least attractive mushroom caps to use as the bottom “bun” and set each on a leaf of butter lettuce. The sizes varied but still worked out just fine.

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Next, the burger patty.

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Blue cheese crumbles.

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Applewood smoked bacon.

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Just a bit of thinly sliced red onion.

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And finally, the second mushroom cap. See those grill marks?

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Buns? What buns? Who needs buns? Not when you’ve got baby portabellas!

These were delicious! The mushrooms were flavorful and juicy and perfect. Messy but perfect.

I can hardly wait to make them again. In fact, I can’t stop thinking about them.

Oh, the possibilities …

Ground lamb with feta crumbles and tzatziki. Maybe a little olive tapenade?

Smoked Cheddar. BBQ sauce. Jalapenos. Caramelized shallots. Garlic aioli. Brie. Pesto. Mozzarella. Roasted red peppers. Goat cheese. Avocados. Serrano ham. Monterey Jack. Pickles.

Infinite possibilities that beg the question … what are your favorite burger toppings?

I would loved to know!

Enjoy!

This Trim Healthy Mama approved “S” recipe is happily linked with other Trim Healthy Tuesday recipes at Stacy Makes Cents and Gwen’s Nest.

Pioneer Woman’s Tequila Lime Chicken

My day is starting to get away from me and I promised to tell you about Tequila Lime Chicken. I must tell you about Tequila Lime Chicken because you must know! Especially with Cinco de Mayo right around the corner!

This recipe comes from Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman. And is in her Food From My Frontier Cookbook. I love the Pioneer Woman almost as much as I love The Barefoot Contessa – maybe it’s their sassy nick-names? Okay, fantastic recipes, talented personalities and sassy nick-names. Whatever it is, they’re my girls – even though they have absolutely no idea that they’re my girls.

Pioneer Woman’s Tequila Lime Chicken

Just click the linked recipe title above and it will take you right to the recipe.

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The first time I tried this chicken, I was completely blown away. There is something truly magical that happens to chicken breasts when they luxuriate for several hours in this tequila based marinade. I’m pretty sure luxuriate is a word. Sometimes a word sounds good in my head, I type it and then I doubt. Luxuriate. Yup, it’s a word and the only word that seems to fit here.

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Limes, avocados, jalapeno … oh, my! You know only good things can come of this.

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Good things do not always come of this but when you soak chicken in it; it’s a good thing.

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          You will need your food processor or blender to make the marinade for the chicken. Limes, garlic cloves, jalapeno peppers, cilantro, olive oil, tequila …

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yes, good things are about to happen.

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Once all of the marinade ingredients are combined, place your boneless skinless chicken breasts in a large plastic zip-lock type bag and pour the marinade in. Zip it up and let it marinate in the refrigerator for several hours or over night. The longer the better, a few hours just isn’t enough; you really want the chicken and the tequila to have some time together.

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Oh, and don’t get a few chicken breasts in the bag and then decide you’d rather use the tongs that are on the counter behind you than your hands, forcing you to let go of the bag that you think is balanced on the counter because the bag could collapse and some of your precious (and messy) marinade could end up on the floor.

Or so I’ve heard.

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After there has been enough luxuriation (now that is not a word but I still like it), just grill the chicken breasts and serve with your favorite festive sides. I served mine with Grilled Corn Salad (which I shared with you yesterday) and a refreshing Avocado Mango Salad that I will share with you tomorrow.

In fact I think I’ll run to the store and get some mangos and make it again tomorrow for lunch. Purely in the interest of quality control and one last test run of course.

Enjoy!

 

Beef in Stout by the Fire in an Irish Castle

Beef in Stout … seriously does it get any more Irish than that?

Can’t you just picture yourself in the library of an old Irish castle

JohnstownCastle55843220Photo from advertising for Johnstown Castle, Ireland

(now a cozy hotel with every creature comfort imaginable, delightfully historic but with indoor plumbing, central heat and no ghosts or banshees or sieging Norman invaders), curled up in an overstuffed chair in front of a roaring fire, (yes, my post title was shamelessly misleading) soft tartan plaid cashmere throw draped over your lap.

A polite knock at the door, your dinner has arrived and just in time; that massage in the spa followed by several hours of reading by the fire have left you with quite an appetite. The handsome waiter, let’s call him Seamus, sets a large silver tray on the weathered walnut table by the window overlooking the lush green glens and rocky cliffs that lead down to the sea still glistening in the fading evening light.

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Yes, exactly.

Image from Discover Ireland.

Seamus ladles out steaming, heavenly scented bowls of rich stew topped with wedges of perfectly crusty bread. He flexes slightly as he pours two generous glasses of Châteauneuf-du-Pape, placing the yet to be finished bottle gently back on the table.

Okay, I know what you’re thinking … wouldn’t Beef in Stout, in Ireland, go great with an oh, I don’t know, Irish Stout? All I have to say to that is, I’m creating this travel fantasy so there will most certainly be French wine. Besides, a good French red goes with everything. Everything. And there are currently no invading Norman hordes, so we’re good.

Oh, and Belgian chocolate, that’s on the tray too. It also goes with everything. Truly.

And who is that second glass of fragrant red wine for?

Well, in my case, it is for my sweet, handsome husband who just came in from 36 straight holes of golf. Who did you think it was for?

Interestingly enough, I am picturing him in traditional Irish golf attire …

I think it goes without saying, this is not one of my original photos, but I'll put it out there - just for the record.

I think it goes without saying, this is not one of my original photos, but I will put the disclaimer out there anyway – just for the record.

Just. Like. That.

No, I’m not poking fun. He could totally pull off the look. And besides, you don’t make it to seventeen years of marriage if you can’t laugh at each other together.

Incidentally, I am also picturing him preferring to have an Irish Stout with his stew. And darn it, he is just too full for Belgian chocolates. But what to do with that second glass of wine? Good thing I’m on vacation.

Yes, that was a lot of set up for a Beef in Stout recipe. The laundry I have to do, dishes waiting in the sink and errands I need to run may have something to do with my need for Calgonesque travel fantasies.

Poof. Back to reality. At least there’s still the stew. And Calgon.

Beef in Stout with Herb Dumplings

from Irish Pub Cooking, Parragon Books, serves 6

Ingredients

Stew

  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 8 carrots, sliced
  • 4 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • 2 lb braising beef cut into cubes, I used chuck
  • generous 1 3/4 cups stout
  • 2 tsp brown sugar
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 Tbsp chopped fresh thyme
  • salt and pepper

Herb Dumplings

  • generous 3/4 cup self-rising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 1/2 cup shredded suet – I know, use butter
  • 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley, plus extra to garnish
  • about 4 Tbsp. water

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Heat the oil in an oven-proof cast iron casserole (like Le Creuset). Add the onions and carrots and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes, or until the onions are softened.

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Meanwhile, place the flour in a plastic bag and season well with salt and pepper.

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Add the beef to the bag, close the top, and shake well to coat. Do this in batches.

Remove the vegetables from the casserole with a slotted spoon and reserve. Add the beef to the casserole, in batches, and cook, stirring frequently, until browned all over.

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Return all the meat and the onions and carrots to the casserole and sprinkle in any remaining seasoned flour. Pour in the stout.

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Add the sugar, bay leaves, and thyme. Bring to a boil, cover, and cook in the preheated oven for 1 3/4 hours.

To make the herb dumplings, sift the flour and salt into a bowl. Cut in the butter and stir in the parsley and add enough of the water to make a soft dough. Shape into small balls between the palms of your hands. Add to the casserole and return to the oven for 30 minutes.

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Remove and discard the bay leaves and serve, sprinkled with parsley.

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I have yet to visit Ireland and I gave up wine for Lent (well the second half of Lent anyway) but even so, I got to enjoy this wonderful stew with my sweet, handsome husband and the three little people who make reality (laundry, dishes and errands included) far better than any fantasy escape to a distant land could ever be.

Now where’s that Calgon.

Greek Salad

All of my company left yesterday. I had a great time with my mom, sister and aunt and enjoyed some beautiful hikes, shopping (I’ll tell you about my thrift store score later) and of course a lot of cooking and eating. Really, it was just wonderful being together and I miss them already. Sometimes the hardest part about welcoming company is having to say goodbye.

I told you about our trip to the market and how we were shopping for ingredients for Greek Salad and I also promised to tell you all about that Greek Salad, so today, that is what I am going to do.

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Greek Salad is one of my favorite things to make, especially for a crowd. I love anything that you can arrange on a platter and allow guests to pick and choose and serve themselves; easy, fun and delicious. I can’t swear that each ingredient I like truly falls into the “Greek” category but this is my interpretation; call it “food poetic license.”

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There are a lot of protein possibilities for a Greek salad, lamb kabobs or lamb burgers would be great! Most often, I like to grill marinated chicken breasts and then slice them. Here’s how I marinate them:

  • 6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 minced shallot
  • 3 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh oregano, chopped (or 2 Tbsp. dried Greek Seasoning)
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh mint, chopped
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper

Put everything together in a gallon sized plastic zip-lock bag and marinate in the fridge for several hours. Grill the chicken over medium-high heat, 4-5 minutes per side. Let them rest for at least 5 minutes and then slice them or cut them into bite sized pieces.

And now for a few of my favorite “Greek” things …

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On a platter, I have arranged diced hot-house (English) cucumber, jarred roasted red peppers, golden and red tomatoes, a feta cheese/olive combo from the deli, jarred marinated artichoke hearts, plain feta cheese cut into chunks and drizzled with olive oil and finally, garbanzo beans (drained and rinsed) that I squeezed the juice of one lemon over and then sprinkled with julienned mint leaves and a pinch of kosher salt.

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I always serve Greek Salad with hummus. Because I love hummus. In fact, my whole family loves hummus so for us, it is an obvious choice. Wedges of soft whole wheat pita bread are a nice (and very popular) touch.

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I used Organic Girl Super Greens for this particular salad. A combo of baby greens that I hadn’t tried before; red & green swiss chard, tat soi (that one I’m going to have to google), arugula and spinach. Delicious, fresh and crunchy! You could certainly use whatever greens you like; romaine, spinach, mesclun, etc.

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Set out a stack of plates and forks and let everyone build their own salad. Serve with a nice red wine vinaigrette. I actually really like Briannas Homestyle Blush Wine Vinaigrette and use it all the time but you can quickly and easily make your own …

  • 1/4 cup red wine vinegar
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. dried oregano or 2 tsp. fresh oregano, chopped

Put it all in a mason jar, tighten the lid and shake it up. For any vinaigrette, the trick to remember is the ratio of 1 part acid (citrus, vinegar, etc.) to three parts fat (oil) and from there, the possibilities are endless. That being said, I personally prefer a 1:2 ratio – a little more zing, a little less fat. Try it out and see what works for you.

Since I started food blogging, the joke in the house has become “who is going to get the pretty plate?” – the plate arranged and used for the final photo. In this case, with all of the color and variety, all of the plates were pretty and didn’t take a whole lot of “styling”.

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As always, I hope you’ll give this “recipe” a try, make it your own and enjoy!

Oh, and as for those thrift shop treasures …

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Enameled cast iron.

When I saw the set, I did a double take – when I saw the price, I did a happy dance. I don’t know the manufacturer as they are unmarked but they are heavy and gorgeous and other than a small chip here or there, barely used. Happy, happy dance.

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The oval dutch oven alone was a score. I’m not sure if it is tacky to disclose what I paid for the lot but I will say this, mid-double digits and I am still smiling ear to ear in disbelief.

And then I found this too …

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a Portmeirion quiche (or flan) dish.

I think my aunt and sister may make a thrift store shopper out of me yet!

Love, Laughter and Chicken Soup, the Best Medicine

At the end of Friday’s post, I mentioned my sick little guy – you’ve got to love pre-school, a small room filled with still developing immune systems and every germ known to man. Poor guy was pretty miserable with a yucky stomach bug that was most UN-welcome company. Thankfully, it seems to have stayed confined, especially since we will have a houseful of company this week; welcome company in this case, my mom, my aunt and one of my sisters. I am so excited for us all to be together and would very much like for it to be a healthy visit.

So sorry for the most unappetizing start, how about we switch direction to something that will make all of us feel better, Chicken Soup.

Chicken soup, like French toast, is another thing I have always made intuitively, adding in veggies I have on hand in amounts that “seem right”; a little bit of celery, onion, carrot, fresh thyme. Not surprising seeing as I learned to cook from “dump cooks” as my great-aunt used to say; “dump in a little of this, dump in a little of that”, you get the idea.

Chicken soup is a forgiving concoction that allows for you to play around a little bit. Chicken broth with give you a clearer, lighter soup broth but if you want a darker more richly flavored broth, use stock. I do make my own stock from time to time and freeze it so that I have it on hand but when I run out, I just use the good stuff from the store; just be sure it is low-sodium so that you can control the seasoning.

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This is the post Thanksgiving turkey carcass stock simmering away. One of my favorite “leftovers”.

If you want to make your own stock, I highly recommend it and of course, I recommend following the Barefoot Contessa’s Chicken Stock recipe.

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I use rotisserie chicken from the grocery store in a pinch but have learned (yes, from Ina) that roasting your own chicken breast is the way to go. So, I roast the chicken breasts just how she taught me; bone-in, skin-on, drizzle with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. I am completely addicted to Herbs de Provence so I can’t help but sprinkle a little on for good measure. Completely addicted. I don’t need all of this chicken for soup but I always roast more to have on hand for salads, casseroles or whatever else I might have planned for the week.

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Once the chicken is cooled, you can shred it or chop it into bite sized pieces. For the soup, two to three breasts (depending on their size) is a good amount but use as much or as little as you like; it’s your soup!

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I always add fresh thyme to my soup and have been experimenting with a sprinkle of fresh parsley just before serving.

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Of course, carrots, onions and celery are a must. Just a bit of trivia, the French culinary term for this trio is mirepoix. According to Wikepedia, a mirepoix (pron.: meer-PWAH) can be a combination of celery (either common pascal celery or celeriac), onions, and carrots. There are many regional mirepoix variations, which can sometimes be just one of these ingredients, or include additional spices. Mirepoix, raw, roasted or sautéed with butter or olive oil, is the flavor base for a wide variety of dishes, such as stocks, soups, stews and sauces. The three ingredients are commonly referred to as aromatics. I love knowing this sort of thing and yes, my “mirepoix” does have some garlic in it. I love garlic so in it goes.

Play around with the vegetables. Add leeks if you like or turnips. Here I’ve used 3 carrots, 3 celery stalks and one small onion, chopped into bite-sized pieces.

Chicken-Soup-8I like to saute’ my aromatics in a little bit of butter and olive oil (a couple of tablespoons of each) and a pinch of Kosher salt, just to soften them up a bit and deepen their flavors; about 5 minutes.

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Add in your stock or broth (about 2 quarts) and the fresh thyme (the leaves pulled from 3 or 4 sprigs) bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add in the chicken and a handful of chopped parsley and simmer for another 5 minutes. Parsley note: my kids love homemade chicken soup. They DO NOT love the parsley added in. As Nathan says, “what ‘dis green stuff? I can’t like ‘dis green stuff.” Use parsley at your discretion or at the discretion of your pickiest eater.

If I decide to make chicken noodle soup, I’ll add in a package of linguine or wide egg noodles (I like the linguine best – just break it up a little bit) after the soup has come to a boil and then simmer for the amount of time recommended on the pasta package. If you use fresh pasta, allow the soup to simmer for a few minutes before you add the pasta as it only takes a few minutes to cook.

Give the soup a taste and season with salt and pepper accordingly.

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If I am making soup to deliver to someone, I love to put it in mason jars.

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It looks homemade, is easy to deliver, tucks nicely into a care package and your recipient doesn’t have to worry about returning your cookware or dishes to you. Be sure to take along a loaf of crusty bread! I put the care package above together for a friend who was recovering from surgery so flowers and a good magazine were a must.

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I know there are a lot of “abouts” and “a couple of’s” and “sprinkles” and “dashes” in this recipe but that is because I want you to experiment and make it your own. Cook intuitively, to your taste, how you and your family like it. This is a soup that has to be made with love and laughter and fun. You don’t need a recipe, just a willing heart to make something warm, healthy and comforting for someone you love.

Speaking of “someone loved” … happily, my boy is feeling much better. Last night, he crawled up in my lap and snuggled in. I kissed the top of his sweet head and said to him, “I am so glad you are feeling better.” And he said to me, “I am so glad you are my mommy.” I love it when God gives us those moments. I will never forget it. I am so glad to be his mommy too and I will never make him eat chicken soup with parsley in it again.

Family Dinner Favorite: Barefoot Contessa’s Lentil Sausage Soup

I can’t remember which dinner favorite number I’m on, so I’ve decided to drop that catchy part of the dinner favorite series. Suffice it to say that this hearty, healthy and insanely delicious soup is most definitely a favorite – even with the kids.

If you have read many of my recipe posts then you will not be surprised to learn that this recipe comes from …

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Right! The Barefoot Contessa. Oh to be “Barefoot in Paris” – well, not all of Paris but I’m sure there are some parts where it is safe to be barefoot – a park maybe? The Jardin des Plantes or the Champ de Mars (I totally googled those) or the Louvre – okay maybe not the Louvre. If you ever do go barefoot in the Louvre in Paris, you really do have to come back here and tell me all about it!

Anyway, all tangents aside, this soup is one of my all time favorite things to eat. In case you were starting to think otherwise, we really do eat pretty healthy around here; apple dumplings and fancy mac and cheese are treats, delicious heavenly treats, but not staples on the regular menu.

Like so much of the food I love, this soup holds special memories for me. One of the first times I made it was two years ago when my high school friend Tara came from San Francisco to spend Thanksgiving with us. She flew in late in the evening, the Tuesday before Thanksgiving, after a long day of work in the corporate jungle. I knew that she needed to walk into warmth and comfort, feeling welcome and at home and wondering what that amazing smell was coming from the kitchen. It’s my job to know, I’m her friend.

Tara's-Visit

After a big hug and a few tears, I invited her to settle into the guest room, put on her jammies and warm socks and relax by the fire; letting the stress of a hectic pace and demanding job begin to melt away (and be replaced by the stress of three wild, really loud little kids who all want “Auntie Tara’s” attention at the same time – never mind that, just think warm and peaceful thoughts; it helps). I made quite a few yummy things for her during that visit (including Thanksgiving dinner) but that first evening of catching up around a warm fire with a steaming bowl of this soup is what stands out most in my memory. I hope it does in hers as well. I love you my friend.

Barefoot Contessa’s Lentil Sausage Soup

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Yes, it looks delicious and it tastes even better.

Give yourself about two hours. The soup is easy to make but time-consuming with a lot of chopping and important steps that ensure proper flavor development. Take your time and enjoy the process, that is, afterall,  half the joy of creating a dish like this.

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Start with French Green Lentils

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I can only find them at one store (a specialty grocer) and they are pricey but Ina swears they are the most tender and flavorful of the lentils. Who am I to question? I will try it sometime with brown or red lentils though, just to see for myself.

Now for the chopping (which is very therapeutic if you didn’t know) …

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onions and leeks – sorry, I forgot to buy the leeks this time but the soup turned out great anyway.

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Carrots, medium dice.

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Celery, medium dice as well – split the stalk lengthwise and chop; be sure to use the celery leaves too, don’t throw them away.

Lentil-Soup-7Thyme and garlic. Be still my heart.

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Saute’ the onions, leeks (if you remembered to buy them), garlic, thyme and seasonings first.

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Add in the celery and carrots. If you are a food nerd like me, you can tell me what the French term is for the carrot, celery, onion combo – I know you can, even if you won’t admit it.

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Then the chicken stock, tomato paste and lentils.

Lentil Soup 12Use a good chicken STOCK, not just broth – it really does make a difference.

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Add in the Kielbasa – the lower fat Turkey Kielbasa tastes great in the soup and is better for you.

Lentil-Soup-14The recipe calls for a splash of red wine, so since the bottle had to be opened anyway …

Lentil-Soup-18A glass of wine, a slice of crusty bread,

Lentil-Soup-19all that’s left is to sit down with someone you love and make some happy, warm memories.

Enjoy!