Chicken Barley Soup

It’s not very often a family of four can polish off a whole roast chicken in one sitting. What that means is there will be lot of leftovers.

chickensoupA cold chicken sandwich with a little mayo or Miracle Whip is pretty tasty, but if you’re up for something a little more substantial, soup is a great option.

Combining some of the leftover chicken with pearled barley and a pile of veggies is a hearty meal in itself as well as being quite nutritious.

Chicken Barley Soup
2 cups cooked chicken
1 cup pearled barley
4 carrots, sliced
1 cup frozen peas
2 cups green beans
1 onion, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 cup whole-kernel corn
4 cups chicken broth
4 cups water or stock
½ teaspoon ground coriander
Salt and pepper to taste
Combine all ingredients and cook on low to medium heat for about 2 hours or until vegetables are thoroughly cooked.

White Turkey Chili

Leftover turkey can be a blessing or a boon, depending on how much meat you have and how many recipes you have that your family likes. One option that we like is white chili, which also works well with leftover chicken.

whitechiliThe following recipe, courtesy of the North Dakota State University Extension Service that I collected years ago, is a real winner. It’s a 30-minute meal that would go well with cornmeal muffins, carrot/celery sticks, apple crisp and low-fat milk.

White Turkey Chili
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 4-ounce can diced green chilies, drained
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 14.5-ounce can low-sodium chicken broth
2 16-ounce can Great Northern beans, drained and rinsed
1½ cups cooked turkey (or chicken)
Shredded cheese, sour cream and salsa, optional
Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion and saute until tender. Add the chilies, flour and cumin; cook and stir for 2 minutes. Add the chicken broth and mix well. Add the beans and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes or until lightly thickened. Add the chicken and heat through. Garnish with cheese, low-fat sour cream and salsa, if desired.
Yield: Serves 6.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 338 calories, 10 grams fat, 37 grams carbohydrates, 9 grams fiber.

Chicken and Green Bean Casserole

It’s always a challenge to come up with new recipes with the same old ingredients. But all it take is a little imagination. That’s what I did the other day, and the results were beyond my expectations.

pheasantMy plan was to come up with something that combined chicken (in this case pheasant), potatoes and green beans, since I had all three of those ingredients on hand. What I had in mind was some sort of casserole.

Of course, I needed a sauce, and the combination of mayonnaise and cream of chicken soup was just the ticket. The recipe that follows is what I came up with. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.

Chicken and Green Bean Casserole
1 tablespoon olive oil
4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
2 14.5-ounce cans green beans
1 10.5-ounce can cream of chicken soup
¾ cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon garlic powder
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
8 to 10 small new potatoes, steamed
Red wine
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Quickly brown chicken breasts on both sides. Do not overcook. Remove from heat and set aside. Deglaze the pan with the red wine and set aside drippings.
Pour green beans (drained) into a 2-quart casserole dish. Place the chicken on top of the beans. In a small bowl, mix together the mayonnaise and cream of chicken soup along with the pan drippings. Place on top of the chicken and beans. Sprinkle Parmesan over the top.
Bake for 1 hour in preheated oven. Serve over steamed new potatoes.
Yield: Serves 4.

Pad Thai

There is no shortage of Oriental eateries these days, as people’s appetite for food from that part of the world seems to be growing as fast as the globe’s population.

stirfryAnd for that matter, a lot of cooks have taken up woks and added that genre of cooking to their culinary repertoire. In a lot of households, chopsticks are as common as knives and forks.

That’s the way it is in our house. We often have stir-fry, relying on fresh garden veggies during the summer and a greater selection of produce at supermarkets during the winter months.

One of our favorite dishes is Pad Thai, which until a year or so ago, we had to go out to one of our favorite restaurants to find. Now, Therese has a wonderful take on the entree, which I would put up against that of any eating establishment.

Pad Thai
4 to 6 ounces chicken, seafood or tofu
1 bell pepper, cut into slices
1 zucchini, sliced
1 carrot, thinly sliced
1 onion, thinly sliced
4 ounces green beans, cut into 1-inch pieces
1 stalk celery, sliced
2 teaspoons of Maesri Pad Thai sauce (without peanuts)
1 heaping tablespoon of Hoisin sauce
1 tablespoon of soy sauce
1 tablespoon of balsamic vinegar
1 package Thai brand stir-fry rice noodles
3 slices bacon, chopped
½ cup peanuts, chopped
Lime wedges
Precook small pieces of meat, chicken, tofu or seafood and set aside. Stir-fry the vegetables with bacon. Don’t overcook. (Don’t use broccoli or cauliflower.)
Add the Pad Thai, Hoisin and soy sauces along with the vinegar to the cooked vegetables. Add the cooked rice noodles to the pan and stir until they are mixed in and coated with sauce. Serve with chopped peanuts and lime wedges.



Pheasant Stroganoff

Cooking meals for a family on a daily basis can be challenging, especially if you are trying to mix things up a bit and not have the same thing week after week.

FN_Paula Deen Beef Stroganoff.tifThe past four days, our grandson has come over for supper, having a break between hockey and baseball season. The first night, we had a casserole, fondly called “Grandma’s Hotdish” by family members. That was followed by pork steak cooked in my homemade barbecue  and served with mashed potatoes and whole-kernel corn. Next came mac ‘n’ cheese.

But the coup de grace was a pheasant stroganoff. Not only was the stroganoff delicious and loaded with mushrooms, it also was a good way to use some of the game that’s in the freezer. (You also could substitute chicken for the pheasant.)

Pheasant Stroganoff
|1 pound pheasant meat, about ½-inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
½ pound mushrooms, washed trimmed and sliced
1 medium onion, minced (about ½ cup)
1 10½ ounce can condensed chicken broth
1 10-ounce can cream of mushroom soup
2 tablespoons ketchup
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
1 small garlic clove, minced
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon paprika
4 tablespoons flour, divided
1 cup sour cream
¼ cup cooking sherry
3 to 4 cups hot cooked wide egg noodles
Cut meat across the grain into ½-inch strips, about 1½ inches long. Melt butter in large skillet. Add onion and garlic; cook and stir until onion is tender. Add and saute pheasant until cooked through. Add half of the flour, spices and mushrooms. Simmer for 5 minutes. Add soup and half of broth. Stir in ketchup, tomato paste, salt and pepper. Cover and simmer 15 minutes. Blend reserved broth and flour then stir into meat mixture along with Worcestershire sauce. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Boil and stir 1 minute. Reduce heat. Stir in sour cream and sherry, heat through. Serve over noodles.

Balsamic Chicken and Sweet Peppers

Peppers are great when combined with meat. In just about every culture, a cook can find recipes that pair the two. And most them are on the easy side to prepare.

chickenpeppersMexicans, for example, have fajitas. Head to the Orient, and you can find all sorts of stir-fry recipes that feature peppers and meat. Ditto for the Middle East and the Mediterranean countries, where peppers are stuffed with various types of meat. And go to Africa, and you’ll find peppers and meat are combined with other vegetables and fruit in tasty dishes.

Here’s a recipe that I tried recently. I’m not sure of its origins, but the fact that the only cooking container you need is a Dutch oven and takes less than an hour from start to finish makes it very desirable.

The cooking method, braising, is a favorite of mine. Even the tough cuts of meat come out tender when simmered slowly in a little liquid. 

Balsamic Chicken and Sweet Peppers
3 tablespoons olive oil
8 bone-in, skinless chicken thighs
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 large red bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, thinly sliced
1 large yellow bell pepper, stem and seeds removed, thinly sliced
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 cup balsamic vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 cups low-sodium chicken stock or broth
¼ cup chopped fresh flat-leafed parsley
Heat oil in medium Dutch oven over high heat until it shimmers. Pat the chicken dry with paper towels; season with salt and pepper. Place chicken in the pan, in batches, top-side down. Cook until golden brown, about 4 minutes. Turn over, continue cooking 3 minutes. Remove chicken to a plate.
Add peppers to Dutch oven and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly soft, about 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook 1 minute. Add tomato paste and cook for 1 minute. Add the vinegar and cook until reduced by half. Add honey and broth, season with salt and pepper, cook for 5 minutes.
Return the chicken and accumulated juices to the pot. Reduce heat to medium, cover the pot, and cook until the chicken is tender, about 15 minutes.
Remove the chicken to a platter. Cook sauce until slightly reduced, about 5 minutes. Stir in parsley and pour sauce over the chicken.
Note: I substituted a dozen pheasant thighs and the result was more than satisfactory.
Approximate nutritional analysis per serving: 380 calories, 28 grams carbohydrates, 30 grams protein, 115 milligrams cholesterol, 16 grams fat.

Chicken and Dumplings

A meal of chicken and dumplings is good any time of the year, but the combo is especially welcome when the temperatures fall before the freezing mark, as has been the case for the past couple of months.

dumpchickenI’ve always been a fan of chicken and dumplings. Some of the best I’ve had were back before the Flood of 1997, at the old Whitey’s in East Grand Forks, Minn. A group of my co-workers at the Herald used to go to the restaurant on almost a weekly basis for the noon chicken and dumplings special.

I got to thinking fondly about those trips the other day, when deciding to make a chicken and dumplings meal. A recipe in my Fanny Farmer cookbook provided a starting point. I pretty much followed the recipe, which follows, except for a couple of changes, and the result was quite tasty.

Chicken with Dumplings
4 chicken breasts
4 carrots, sliced thin
1 cup frozen peas
2 stalks celery with leaves, sliced thin
1 large onion, chopped
1½ teaspoons thyme, crumbled
½ teaspoon rosemary, crumbled
2 teaspoons salt
½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
1 cup flour
½ cup bread crumbs
¼ teaspoon salt
1 egg, well beaten
2 tablespoons butter, melted
1/3 cup milk
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 tablespoon minced parsley
Freshly ground pepper to taste
Put chicken in a large pot and cover with water. Add all of the vegetables except the peas. Cover and bring to a boil and reduce to a simmer. Combine the flour, bread crumbs, baking powder and salt in a mixing bowl. Stir to mix. In another bowl, lightly beat the egg, melted butter and milk together. Stir into the dry ingredients to make a stiff batter. Stir in the parsley and pepper. When the chicken has simmered 20 minutes, add the peas. Then drop spoonfuls of dough on top of bubbling broth. Cover and steam for 20 minutes without lifting the cover. Serve.

Pheasant Stew

There’s no doubt that stew is a cool-weather dish. And the changing of the seasons from early to late fall is the perfect time to fix this age-old comfort food.

stewJust recently back from a pheasant hunting trip, I dug the remainder of our home-grown carrots. A half-dozen of these, combined with some nicely cooked leftover pheasant and some other veggies including potatoes, celery, tomatoes and green beans, and I had the makings for a tasty stew, the recipe for which follows.

Pheasant Stew
2 cups cooked pheasant, cut into small pieces (can substitute chicken or turkey)
6 carrots, sliced
1 stalk celery, diced
1 onion, diced
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
1 pint whole tomatoes
1 14½-ounce can green beans
2 cups chicken broth
Salt and pepper to taste
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon sage
2 teaspoons dried basil
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
¼ cup red wine
1 bay leaf
2 potatoes, diced
Place all ingredients into stock pot and cook for 2 hours. Serve.
Note:To thicken, add some cornstarch dissolved in warm water.

Easy Chicken and Rice Soup

Nothing is as satisfying as a good bowl of soup on a cold and rainy day. And when the soup contains ingredients that you have harvested in your own garden and on hunting trips, the meal is even more appealing.

newsouupSaturday was one of those days. With a couple of buckets full of carrots from my garden and a package of pheasant legs and thighs needing to  be eaten up before this coming weekend’s rooster opener, the decision to make soup was an easy one.

The following recipe calls for chicken, but you could substitute pheasant like I did or else use turkey or some other fowl.

And I have to say that the result was delicious.

Easy Chicken and Rice Soup
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced
2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into ½-inch-thick slices
2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into ½-inch-thick slices
4 fresh thyme sprigs
1 bay leaf
2 quarts chicken stock or broth
1 cup of water
1 cup long grain white rice
1½ cups shredded cooked chicken breasts
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
Place a soup pot over medium heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken broth and water. Bring the liquid to a boil. Add in the rice and chicken; season with salt and pepper. Cook on medium-low until the rice is tender-about 30 minutes. Serve hot.

Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken

It’s no fun preparing meals in the oven when temperatures are in the 90s and the relative humidity is near the century mark, especially if you don’t have air conditioning.

seschickenLuckily, we have central air, but I still refrain from using the oven when the weather outside is more suited for lobsters ready to go into the boiling pot.

In fact, I’m not one for cooking at all except if it’s something like BLTs, which we’re having tonight with some fresh tomatoes from the garden.

Another option when it’s too hot for the oven is the slow cooker. Here’s one such recipe from a friend of mine, Nancy Carriere of Plymouth, Minn. It’s one of those dishes that always looks so good at Chinese buffets. I might just have to try it tomorrow night, using pheasant instead of chicken and served with a side of fresh broccoli.

Slow Cooker Sesame Chicken
1½ pound boneless/skinless chicken breasts
½ cup honey
¼ cup soy sauce
2 tablespoons dried onion
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon oil
½ teaspoon garlic powder
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 3 Tablespoons water
Sesame seeds
Put chicken into slow cooker pot. Combine honey, soy sauce, onion, ketchup, oil and garlic. Pour over chicken. Cook on low for 3 to 4 hours or on high 1½ to 2½ hours, or just until chicken is cooked through. Remove chicken from slow cooker, leave sauce. Dissolve 2 teaspoons of cornstarch in 3 tablespoons of water and pour into slow cooker. Stir to combine with sauce. Replace lid and cook sauce on high for 10 more minutes or until slightly thickened. Cut chicken into bite size-pieces and return to slow cooker. Simmer on low or serve. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and serve over rice.