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Spicy Crispy Chicken Strips

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Time: 20-30 minutes

Serves: 12-15 as an appetizer / party finger-food

Inspired by: I’ve always liked crispy chicken tenders/nuggets/strips, but wished there was a non-greasy version that had real chicken inside that was safe to eat. I thought it might be fun to use my blackening spice for this and try making them for a small party. I love the crispiness, and the spice gives them an awesome kick!

Ingredients:

  • 2 lbs boneless, skinless, organic chicken breasts
  • 1-2 eggs
  • 1/4 cup olive oil (4 tablespoons)
  • 1 cup (16 tablespoons) of crispy bread crumbs
  • 1/4 cup of Spice it up …by Karen™ (more if you like super spicy)

Preparation:

  • Preheat your oven to 400 degrees (or if you have a good toaster oven, there is no need to preheat, but you will need to cook these in batches)
  • Get a non-stick cookie sheet or rub a bit of olive oil on a cookie sheet so your chicken will not stick as it cooks
  • Lightly beat the eggs with a fork or whisk, and mix with the olive oil in small bowl
  • In a low, wide bowl (such as a soup bowl), mix the bread crumbs well with the spice
  • Cut chicken into strips – approximately 1.5 inches wide by 3 inches long
  • Dip the chicken into the egg/olive oil mixure to coat and then roll in the breadcrumb mix
  • Lay the chicken strips a half inch to an inch apart on the cookie sheet
  • Bake until golden brown – probably at least 12 minutes, possibly as long as 20

Notes: Because these are getting so much more surface area covered with spice than making blackened chicken with whole or half chicken breasts, these can get pretty spicy – so if you like spice, but not too much, I suggest using a bit less spice and a bit more of the bread crumbs. For parties, I have prepared these on the cookie sheet early in the day and kept them refridgerated and then took them out to bake when ready to serve. You can bring them to room temperature first, but it really isn’t necessary.

Wine Suggestions: A medium bodied red with some good fruit and spice on it would be perfect. A Syrah or Southern Rhone blend, Zinfandel or a spicy older Barolo. Off dry whites are often a fantastic pairing for spicy foods such as a Riesling or Viognier/Condrieu.


Favorite Lemony Salad Dressing

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Time: 5-10 minutes

Inspired by: Lemon is one of my favorite flavors, and I think a lemon-based (versus vinegar-based) dressing is a much better pairing with wine. Since we drink wine with most dinners, this is our “almost daily” dressing.

Ingredients:

  • Juice of two lemons (Meyer lemons recommended)
  • Olive oil – approximately 1/2 of the quantity of lemon juice
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • A squirt of Dijon mustard – this Annie’s Horseradish mustard in the picture has been perfect
  • A pinch of salt and pepper

Preparation:

  • Mix the above ingredients and shake well. We combine the ingredients in a small bowl, funnel them into a bottle and shake well before using. This bottle was a gift from a very sweet family member and we love it.
  • Between uses we keep in the refrigerator. If you take it out of the fridge 15-20 minutes before using, the hardened olive oil will soften. You can also put in the microwave if necessary for a few seconds to warm it.

Shiitake-Vegetable Soup with Ginger & Lemongrass

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Time: 1:45

Serves: approximately 30 1 cup servings

Ingredients for Broth:

  • 1 white onion chopped
  • 1/2 – 1 Serrano pepper minced fine (if you like a bit of a kick)
  • 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 4 quarts of chicken stock or 4 quarts water and 1/2-1 jar organic “better than bouillon” chicken soup base
  • 3 tablespoons fresh minced ginger (1/4 dry ground ginger can be a substitute for fresh)
  • 1/2 tablespoon red pepper flakes (if you like a bit of a kick)
  • 1/2-1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon minced lemongrass
  • 8-10 4″ pieces of “bruised” lemongrass stalks (after trimming base and spiky tops,  beat them up a bit – crush with something heavy and cut into them with a knife to help release the flavors)
  • 5 cups sliced Shiitake mushrooms
  • 5 cups chopped vegetables such as:
    • carrots
    • celery
    • snow peas (or snap peas)
    • bell pepper
  • 1, 8oz can water chestnuts (rinsed)
  • 1, 8oz can bamboo shoots (rinsed)
  • 1, 14oz can baby corn (rinsed)
  • Optional garnish: fresh parsley or leafy greens such as spinach.

Preparation:

  • Sauté onion and Serrano in 2 tablespoons olive oil with 1/2 teaspoon salt on medium heat. Do not brown, just sauté until soft, translucent and well-cooked.
  • Add 4 quarts of chicken stock (or 4 quarts of water and 1/2 of the soup base), ginger, minced and bruised lemongrass, freshly ground pepper and red pepper flakes.
  • Simmer covered for 60 minutes to bring out flavors.
  • Adjust seasoning and add more chicken soup base as desired.
  • Add vegetables and simmer for 5 minutes or until they begin to soften.
  • Add Shiitakes and simmer 5-8 more minutes until they are the texture you like them.
  • Turn off heat and add water chestnuts, bamboo shoots and baby corn.
  • Remove lemongrass stalks.
  • Serve with optional chopped parsley or leafy greens as a garnish.

Notes: This is a broth-based soup so it should freeze well.


Chicken Vegetable Soup

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Time: 2 hours (Day 1), 1 hour (Day 2)

Serves: 15-20 cups

Inspired by: It’s winter. Everyone I know is sick this month. I wanted to create a soup with similar flavors to my delicious and hearty lentil vegetable soup, but with healing, homemade chicken stock and chicken, instead of the lentils. Experiment successful!

Ingredients for Broth:

  • 1 chicken, 3.5 – 5 pounds, with skin, cut up, remove innards
  • 3 stalks celery, with leaves, cut into chunks
  • 2 large carrots, cut into chunks
  • 2 yellow onions, peeled and quartered
  • 1-2 dozen sprigs parsley
  • 1-2 dozen black peppercorns
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt, more to taste

Ingredients for Soup:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2  medium yellow onions, diced
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon salt (+ add additional at the end to your desired taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 2-3 carrots, chopped
  • 4-5 stalks celery with leaves chopped
  • 2-3 quarts chicken broth (made from above ingredient list)
  • 2, 28oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch collard greens with tough ribs removed, chopped
  • Juice of one Meyer lemon

Preparation Day 1:

  • Place broth ingredients (chicken, celery, carrots, onions, parsley, peppercorns, bay leaves and salt) into large soup pot and cover with water by 1-2 inches. Add a bit more for a more brothy soup.
  • Bring to a boil over high heat and reduce to a very low simmer. Cover and boil for 1 hour. Uncover and boil for another 30 minutes, until chicken is tender and falling off the bone.
  • When cool enough to handle, use tongs to transfer chicken from the pot to a container. Strain broth through a fine sieve (or colander lined with cheesecloth), into a separate container. Discard all solids from the strainer.
  • Refrigerate chicken and broth separately for at least 8 hours or until fat has risen to the top of the broth.

Preparation Day 2:

  • Remove fat from the top of the broth, and separate chicken meat from the bones and skin. Discard bones and skin. Use forks to shred or fingers to separate chicken into small pieces.
  • In large soup pot, heat olive oil. Sauté garlic for 1-2 minutes. Add onions, salt, pepper, cumin, thyme, and optional red pepper flakes. Sauté for another 5-8 minutes until soft and translucent.
  • Add the celery and carrots and sauté for another 10 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth and tomatoes with their juices.
  • Cover and bring to boil.
  • If you’d like the carrots and celery to stay a bit firm, turn off the heat. If you prefer them soft, boil for another 10 minutes and then turn off heat.
  • Add greens and let sit for 5-10 minutes until they  have softened.
  • Add the juice of one lemon and mix well.
  • Taste and add salt if necessary. For more than two quarts of broth, you may also want to add a bit more cumin, pepper and thyme.

Notes: This is a large batch, but it freezes well.


Lentil Vegetable Soup

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Time: 90 minutes

Serves: 20 cups

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound French green lentils (3-4 cups)
  • 3 medium yellow onions, chopped (3-5 cups)
  • 2 leeks (white part only), chopped (2-4 cups)
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced (1 tablespoon)
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt (+ add additional at the end to your desired taste)
  • 1 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ – 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional – adds a bit of a kick)
  • 2 carrots, chopped (1 – 1.5 cups)
  • 4-5 stalks celery with leaves chopped (3-4 cups)
  • 3 quart chicken broth
  • 2, 28oz cans fire-roasted tomatoes, diced
  • 1 bunch collard greens with tough ribs removed (or Kale), chopped (3-5 cups)
  • Juice of one Meyer lemon

Preparation:

  • Rinse and drain lentils.
  • In large soup pot, heat olive oil. Sauté leeks and garlic for 2 minutes. Add onions, salt, pepper, cumin, thyme, and optional red pepper flakes. Saute for another 5-8 minutes until soft and translucent.
  • Add the celery and carrots and sauté for another 10 minutes.
  • Add chicken broth, tomatoes with their juices, and lentils.
  • Cover and bring to boil. Then uncover and simmer for 1 hour, until lentils are cooked (French green lentils will still hold their shape and firm texture even when cooked through).
  • Add greens and simmer for another 5 minutes or so until they have softened.
  • Add the juice of one lemon and mix well.
  • Taste and add salt if necessary. If you are using a broth that already has the appropriate seasoning, you may need very little salt. But if you are using low to no sodium chicken broth you’ll likely want to add more salt.

Notes: This is a large batch, but it freezes well. The recipe is modified from one published by Ina Garten in the Barefoot Contessa Cookbook 1999.


Roasted Tomatillo Soup with Shrimp

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Time: 60 minutes

Serves: 6

Ingredients:

  • 5 – 6 tomatillos
  • 1 large Anaheim pepper
  • 1 very small Jalapeño pepper
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 leek (white part only), halved lengthwise and sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 pound shrimp, cleaned with shells removed – you can leave tails (or substitute black beans, white beans or shredded chicken)
  • Cilantro or another green for garnish (I’m not a fan of Cilantro, but had some arugula)

Preparation:

  • Roast the tomatillos and peppers at 375 degrees F for approximately 30 minutes. Turn half way through roasting. They will be done when soft, lightly browned, and oozing liquid.
  • Meanwhile, sauté leek and onion in olive oil for 2-3 minutes. Add the garlic and continue to sauté until they are well cooked, but not browned. Add approximately ¼ teaspoon of salt while cooking.
  • Put all of the above ingredients into a blender and purée. Return to soup pot. Add the chicken stock and cumin and bring to a boil. Simmer for 10-20 minutes covered.
  • Add the shrimp 2-3 minutes before serving (if the soup is boiling, medium-sized shrimps will take approximately 2 minutes to cook). Rock shrimp or other small shrimp will likely cook in a minute. Previously cooked shrimp, beans or chicken will heat through in 2-3 minutes. If chicken is your protein of choice, you can add a chicken breast when the soup comes to a boil. It should get cooked through in about 20 minutes. You can remove it, shred it with a fork, and put it back into the soup.

Notes: This will likely be relatively spicy with the roasted peppers and pairs well with an off-dry or dry riesling. It should also pair well with any white wine with nice acid – either light and crisp or full and round. It went really well tonight with a beautiful Chassagne-Montrachet.


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