Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Italian Chicken Soup

I found a recipe for Italian Chicken Soup on Tasty Kitchen.  I thought it looked pretty good but I made several changes.

The original recipe called for bell pepper and celery, two vegetables that I don't really enjoy.  So, I took out the two bell peppers and added back in one orange bell pepper as I think they have a milder, sweeter taste.  I also took out the celery and added in one zucchini and dried celery flakes for flavor.  I also reduced the amount of olive oil and used dried oregano and added minced garlic.  The original recipe cooked an entire fryer chicken and I opted for the much easier route of using a precooked rotisserie chicken.  You could also use my recipe for shredded chicken fresh or thawed from the freezer.  I also tried to simplify the cooking process.  

Another note, the original recipe says that it feeds 8 people. . . uh, maybe 8 linebackers!  It makes A LOT of soup.  I froze some for lunches, gave some to a friend and we still had plenty!  So, if you still have holiday company, this is good recipe to feed a crowd!

Italian Chicken Soup

1 whole rotisserie chicken, skinned, deboned and shredded
1 box Ditalini pasta (short macaroni-type pasta)
3 T olive oil, divided
1 medium onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 whole orange bell pepper, diced
1 whole fresh zucchini, chopped
2 whole fresh jalapenos, seeded and diced
8 c low-sodium chicken broth
1 can (28 oz) diced tomatoes
1 t dried oregano
1 T dried celery flakes
salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
2 cups heavy cream
Parmesan cheese shavings, for serving

Peel skin off of rotisserie chicken and discard.  Take chicken off bones and shred.  Set aside.

Cook pasta in a pot according to package directions to al dente. Drain and rinse in cold water to cool. Toss in 1 tablespoon olive oil and set aside. 

Heat a small skillet over medium high heat. Add 2 T olive oil, onion, garlic, bell pepper, zucchini and jalapenos.  Sauté until vegetables are tender and onion is translucent, about 10 minutes.  Add chicken broth, shredded chicken, oregano, celery flakes, salt, pepper and tomatoes with their juice. Bring to a boil, reduce to a simmer.  Simmer for about 10 minutes. Add cooked pasta and cream. Stir to combine. Keep warm until ready to serve.  Serve topped with Parmesan cheese and crusty Italian bread on the side.
Serves 12

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Chicken Taco Chili {Slow-cooker}

I made Chicken Taco Chili this week.  It was pretty easy and the kids really liked it.  I think it will be a new family favorite that I will definitely be making again.  It is also really allergy-friendly.  The chili by itself is egg-free, dairy-free and gluten-free.  Our meal was just egg-free, as we topped or chili with cheese and served it with cornbread.  Enjoy!

Chicken Taco Chili - I pretty much made this recipe as directed on this blog so I will just link to it.  I did omit the bell pepper and cilantro.  I don't care for bell pepper and I just didn't have any fresh cilantro on hand.  I also cooked mine a little longer.  Using raw chicken, makes me a nervous so I wanted to make sure it was cooked all the way.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Homemade Pizza & Christmas Traditions

Everyone is always asking me what our Christmas traditions are.  I was talking to my husband about that a couple of weeks ago.  I think it is all too easy to get caught up in all the 'doing' during the Christmas season and not spend enough time just enjoying it.  We are trying to stay focused on the reason for the season, Christ's birthday, and spending time with family.  But here are a couple of simple Christmas 'traditions' that allow you to enjoy each other! 

This past weekend, we decided to have a family Christmas movie night.  You can't have movie night without pizza!  From this blog, I got the idea to make a candy cane shaped pizza.  Some of my pepperoni strips moved during cooking, but you get the idea.  We used our own recipe for the pizza dough that we got from a family friend.  The dough is so easy to make and is egg-free and dairy-free.  We enjoyed some yummy pizza then curled up together in the living room for a holiday movie.  Such a fun evening with our kids!  


Pizza Dough

1 pkg active dry yeast
1 c warm water (105o to 115o)
1 t sugar
1 t salt
2 T vegetable oil
2 ½ c flour

Dissolve yeast in warm water.  Stir in remaining ingredients; beat vigorously for 20 strokes.  (I used my stand mixer with the dough hook on speed two until formed into a soft ball.)  Cover dough with a towel and let sit for about 10 minutes.  Press dough onto greased cookie sheet or pizza pan. Spread with your favorite pizza sauce and toppings.  Bake at 425o for about 20-25 minutes.
We also made Christmas trees out of ice cream cones this weekend.  I think there was just as much eating as decorating!  Check out this blog for ideas.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Chili Con Queso

Just this week, I have made this queso for two separate Christmas parties and I forgot to take a picture both times.  I decided to share anyway because it is so easy and real crowd pleaser.  If you need something for your next holiday party, try it!

I don't necessarily try to promote brand name products with my recipes, but I am going to make brand suggestions for this recipe to help my gluten-free readers.  According to my research, the products listed are supposed to be gluten-free.  Please notify me if you know otherwise.  Enjoy!

I like to cook my chili con queso in the slow-cooker.  That is especially convenient when you are getting ready for a party.  I have even put all the ingredients in the slow-cooker before work, turned it on when I arrived and it was ready just in time for a work luncheon.  You can also cook on the stove top for considerably less time, if you are in a hurry.

Chili Con Queso

1 lb ground beef
2 lb Velveeta cheese, cubed

Brown ground beef in a skillet until no longer pink and crumbly.  Drain.  Place cooked beef in the bottom of a slow-cooker.  Top with taco seasoning, Velveeta and Rotel tomatoes.  Cook on high for about 4 hours, stirring every hour, or until cheese is all melted.  For best results, turn your slow-cooker to warm while serving.  Serve warm with tortilla chips.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Baked Spaghetti

With every busy household, spaghetti nights are really a must.  It one of the best meals to feed a lot of people for not a lot of money.  Plus, almost everyone likes spagetti.  But I do get bored with plain spagetti.  A friend of mine made this baked spaghetti recipe for me.  It changes up the spagetti just enough to keep it interesting without adding much expense.  Plus, kids love it!

This recipe can feed a crowd.  Sometimes I split it into two pans.  I freeze one unbaked for a later time.  When I pull it out of the freezer, I let it thaw and then just cook as instructed below.  This is also a great recipe to take to a friend, fresh or frozen!

If you like this recipe, you may also like 3 Cheese Lasagna or Easy Cheesy Manicotti.

Baked Spaghetti

1 pound ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 24 oz jar pasta sauce2
1 t sugar
1 pound dried spaghetti1,2
2 c cottage cheese
½ c grated parmesan cheese
2 c shredded mozzarella cheese

Preheat oven to 350o.  Brown ground beef with onion in a large skillet.  Drain.  Add pasta sauce and sugar.  Simmer.  Cook pasta al dente, according to package directions.  Once pasta is cooked, drain and rinse with cool water.  Mix parmesan and cottage cheeses with pasta.  Then stir in meat sauce and spread into a lightly greased 11x15 baking pan.  Top with mozzarella cheese.  Bake uncovered for about 25 minutes or until cheese is melted.  Let sit 5 minutes before serving.
Serves 10

1Make sure the pasta is egg-free.
2If following a gluten-free diet, make sure these two items are gluten-free.