Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Lemony Chicken Noodle Soup

What's the weather like where you live? Here, in the last week, we've had 3 days of snow, 1 day of 60 degrees and sunny and then snow again this morning. What is that about? Portland is bipolar.

In times such as these, I guess we need comfort food. To me, nothing says that better than chicken noodle soup. I love this recipe because the lemon is a surprising addition and totally makes this a vibrant soup as opposed to boring.

Lemony Chicken Noodle Soup
Adapted from Giada De Laurentis


6 c chicken broth
1/3 c fresh lemon juice
1 bay leaf
2 carrots, diced
1 rib of celery, diced
1/2 onion, diced
1 c broken spaghetti or noodles
2 c chicken, cooked and diced
1 c Parmesan cheese, grated
1/4 c fresh parsley, diced


Heat a soup pot over medium heat. Add olive oil and when warm, add onion, celery, and carrots. When tender, about 5 or so minutes later, add the rest of the ingredients except the chicken. Cook until the pasta is done and then add chicken. Cook until warmed through. Remove the bay leaf and add parsley and cheese. Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty warm bread.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meringue

Pretty, right? This was the finale to Eric and my Valentine's Day dinner. It was good but so rich, you can really only eat a small piece.

Flourless Chocolate Cake with Meringue
Adapted from February's Food Network Magazine


2 1/2 sticks butter, cut into small pieces
6 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped
6 oz unsweetened chocolate, chopped
6 large eggs
3/4 c turbinado sugar
pinch of salt
1/2 c stout beer (Guinness)
1 tsp vanilla extract

2 oz semisweet chocolate, chopped
2 tbsp butter
1 tbsp light corn syrup
1 c sugar
3 egg whites
1/4 tsp cream of tartar
pinch of salt
2 tsp vanilla extract


Preheat the oven to 325 degrees. Butter and flour the sides and bottom of a 9-inch spring form pan and line the bottom with parchment paper.

Put the bittersweet and unsweetened chocolate in a heatproof bowl and place over a pan of simmering water (you're making a double boiler, here). Stir until the chocolate melts and set aside.

Put the eggs, turbinado sugar and salt into the bowl of a mixer. Set that bowl over the same bowl of simmering water and stir until warmed through. Transfer to your stand mixer, and wish a whisk attachment, beat on medium speed until tripled in volume, about 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring the beer and vanilla to boil in a small saucepan. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add in the beer mixture then the chocolate mixture. Beat until combined. Gradually beat in the butter until just combined.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake until a toothpick comes out clean, about 35 minutes. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan for 1 hour, then turn out onto a wire rack and let continue cooling. Refrigerate when completely cool.

To make the meringue, microwave the chocolate, butter and corn syrup for 30 second intervals until the chocolate is melted.

Whisk the egg white, sugar, cream of tartar, salt and 1/3 c of water in a heatproof bowl. Put the bowl over a pan of simmering water; beat with a hand mixer, gradually increasing the speed to high. Continue to beat until soft peaks form, about 5 minutes. Remove the bowl from the pan and continue beating until meringue firms and you have stiff peaks. Fold in the vanilla and then fold in the melted chocolate until just combined. Spread on your cake and refrigerate before serving.

Easy Spicy Garlic Bread in a Pot

Isn't this the prettiest bread you've ever seen? Yours will look like this too. I'm sure of it.

You can do this in a bread machine, in your electric mixer with a dough hook, or by hand.

Easy Spicy Garlic Bread in a Pot
Adapted from Joy the Baker


1 c warm water
2 1/4 active dry yeast
pinch of sugar
4 oz butter, melted
1 tbsp chopped fresh thyme
1 tbsp chopped fresh chives
3/4 tsp dried red chili flakes
2 or 3 cloves garlic, peeled and thinly sliced
4 c bread flour
a few big pinches of ground black pepper
2 tsp salt
Olive oil


Sprinkle yeast over warm water, add pinch of sugar and stir gently. Allow yeast and water to rest, foam and froth for about 5 minutes.

Melt butter in a small saucepan. When butter is melted, remove from heat and add herbs, chili flakes and garlic. Set aside.

Place the flour in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Add salt and pepper. Pour in yeast mixture and butter mixture. Stir on low speed for about 10-12 minutes. The dough ball should clean the sides of the bowl and not stick to the bottom. The dough will be relatively smooth and supple, with some firmness.

Place the dough in a large greased bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and all to rest in a warm place until doubled in size, about 1 hour.

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

When doubled in size, place on a lightly floured surface and knead by hand for about 2 minutes.

In a large Dutch oven, add about 2 tbsp olive oil to coat the bottom of the pot. Place dough in the pot and using a large sharp knife, slice fairly deeply a cross into the dough. Drizzle with more olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Cover with a tight fitting lid and bake for 30 minutes. Reduce oven heat to 400 degrees, remove lid, and let bake for another 15 minutes.

Remove from oven and let cool until easily removed from the pan.

Chai Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream

Holy cow!! These are ridiculous!! I mean, possibly the most exciting baked good I've ever made. I took these to work and people are still raving! This recipe is a serious keeper!

Chai Spice Cupcakes with Cinnamon Buttercream
Adapted from Martha Stewart


3/4 c milk
2 black chai tea bags
2 c flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 c packed brown sugar
2 eggs, room temperature

Cinnamon Buttercream:
1/2 c butter, room temperature
2 tsp cinnamon
2-3 tbsp milk, as needed to thin
2-3 c powdered sugar


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line muffin tins with liners.

Bring milk to a simmer over medium heat. Remove from heat and add tea bags. Let steep for 15 minutes. Remove tea bags, squeezing the tea bags over the milk and discard. Allow milk to cool completely.

Whisk together flour, baking powder, and salt. With an electric mixer on medium high speed, cream butter and brown sugar until pale and fluffy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping the sides of the bowl as needed. Reduce speed to low. Add flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with 2 additions of milk. Beat until just combined.

Divide batter evening among lined cups, filling each 3/4 full. Bake, rotating tins halfway through, until tops spring back when lightly touched and are pale golden, about 10-12 minutes. Turn out onto wire racks to cool completely.

To make frosting, beat the butter with an electric mixer for a few minutes. Add the cinnamon and 2 tbsp milk, briefly blend. Add the powdered sugar gradually until the frosting is thick enough to pipe or spread easily. If the frosting is too dry, add more milk. If the frosting is too loose, add more powdered sugar.

Frost cupcakes generously and share with some good friends who will appreciate the amazing-ness of this treat!

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls

Who smells the Cinnabon at the mall and doesn't want one? Not me. I want one every time, but never buy one (mainly because I'm sure the calorie count is sky high). On occasion, I've been known to buy one for Madison while we're shopping... and steal a few glorious bites.

I made the dough for this in my new bread machine, but you can make it by hand and then pick up this recipe mid-way.

Cinnabon Cinnamon Rolls
Adapted from www.allrecipes.com


1 c warm milk
2 eggs, room temp
1/3 c margarine, melted
4 1/2 c bread flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 c white sugar
2 1/2 tsp yeast

2 1/2 tbsp ground cinnamon
1/3 butter, melted

3 oz cream cheese, softened
1/4 c butter, softened
1 1/2 c powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp salt


Place dough ingredients into your bread machine. Select dough cycle and hit start.

After the dough has doubled in size, turn it out onto a lightly floured surface. Cover and let rest for 10 minutes. In a small bowl, combine filling ingredients.

Roll dough into a 16x21 rectangle (or as close as you can get it). Spread filling mixture over dough all the way to the edges. Roll up dough from the long side and cut into 12 rolls. Place rolls in a lightly greased 9x13inch baking pan. Cover and let rise until nearly doubled, about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat oven to 400 degrees.

Bake rolls until golden brown, about 15 minutes. While rolls are baking, beat together cream cheese, 1/4 c butter, powdered sugar, vanilla and salt. Spread frosting on warm rolls (not hot rolls because it will run too much). Enjoy!

You should probably share them with a loved one, too. Just an idea...

Curry Butternut Squash Soup

So this is basically just another excuse for me to dip grilled cheese in something. It totally works though!

Curry Butternut Squash Soup
Adapted from SkinnyTaste


1 tsp olive oil
1 tsp cumin
1 1/2 tsp garam masala
2 tsp curry powder
1/2 medium onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
16 oz (about 2 cups) diced butternut squash
3 c chicken broth
Salt and pepper
1/2 c heavy cream


Add oil to a soup pot on medium heat. Add onion and garlic and saute. Add cumin, garam masala and curry powder and mix well, cooking spices for another minute. Add broth, butternut squash and cook, covered, until squash is tender, about 15 minutes. Remove cover and using an immersion blender to puree (or puree in batches in your regular blender). Season with salt and pepper and add heavy cream (or sub sour cream, yogurt). Best when eaten with a delicious hunk of bread!

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala

Perhaps a little known fact, but I love Indian food. I'm always searching for the best curry recipe. I found this one on Pinterest and although not a straight curry, it is very good. It's a creamy sauce with chicken that's just begging to be scooped up with warm naan.

Slow Cooker Chicken Tikka Masala
Adapted from www.themealplannerprintable.blogspot


Chicken Tikka:
1 c plain yogurt
1 tbsp lemon juice
2 tsp cumin
1/4-1 tsp cayenne (depending on spice factor)
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp pepper
1 tsp salt

6-8 chicken thighs (I used boneless, skinless chicken breasts)

Stir all ingredients together except chicken into the bottom of a large plastic container. Add the chicken and coat completely with the marinade. Cover and refrigerate for at least an hour or overnight.

1 28oz can diced tomatoes
1 5.5oz can tomato paste
2 inch fresh ginger, grated
2 garlic cloves, diced
1 onion, diced
1 tbsp garam masala
1 tbsp curry paste
1 tsp cumin
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried coriander

Save for later:
1/2 tsp cumin
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/2 tsp garam masala
1 c cream (or sour cream, yogurt, etc)


Get your slow cooker out... put the chicken in the marinade into the slower cooker. Combine the Masala ingredients in a bowl until well mixed, then add to the slow cooker. Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low 6-8 hours.

When the dish is done in the slow cooker, add in the 'save for later' ingredients. I served this with rice and Trader Joe's naan. Love it!

Tomato Soup and Grilled Cheese

This winter, this meal has become a weekly occurrence. I'm loving dipping yummy amped up grilled cheese into warm, velvety tomato soup! I've been tweaking my grilled cheese and making it with mozzarella, goat cheese, fontina, basically whatever cheeses are in the fridge- even brie! Sometimes, I'll add some sliced turkey or spinach too.

Tomato Soup
Adapted from Giada De Laurentis


2 tbsp butter
1 onion, diced
2 carrots, diced
2 cloves garlic, diced
1 15oz can white (cannellini) beans, drained and rinsed
1 28oz can crushed tomatoes
3 c chicken broth
1 bay leaf
1 tsp fresh rosemary, minced
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
3/4 tsp salt
1/2 tsp black pepper


In a large soup pot, melt the butter over medium high heat. Add the onion, carrots and garlic and cook until the vegetables are tender. Add the beans, tomatoes, broth, bay leaf, 1 tsp rosemary, and red pepper flakes. Bring the soup to a boil over high heat, the reduce the heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes, covered.

Puree the soup with an immersion blender or in batches in your blender. Be careful to remove the bay leaf beforehand. Season with salt and pepper and keep warm.

Boneless Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Thyme

I made a goal to start cooking more pork at home because Eric likes pork. I never normally buy anything pork besides bacon. It's not that I have anything against it, I just don't have it in my repertoire like chicken. So, this was my attempt and it was very good! I think he will enjoy this one.

Boneless Pork Chops with Mushrooms and Thyme
Adapted from www.delish.com


2 boneless pork chops
1 tsp Olive oil
1 medium shallot
1 1/2 c sliced mushrooms
1/2 c white wine
1 tsp Dijon mustard
1 tsp fresh thyme


Season pork chops with salt and pepper. Set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat olive oil over medium-high heat. Once hot, add pork chops and don't move them! Let them brown on that side then flip and let brown again, in total 4 minutes per side for well done. Transfer to a plate and cover with foil to stay warm.

In the same pan the chops were cooked in, add the shallot and cook until softened. Add mushrooms and let brown, cooking until they are softened. Add the wine and let reduce for a minute or two. Add Dijon and thyme and stir to combine. Put the chops back in the sauce to rewarm and then serve.

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies

So amazing! A great spin on both cheesecake and brownies. I love cheesecake but hate the process of the crust and all, so this is the most perfect way to get my cheesecake fix- a box brownie mix is the crust!! Easy peasy!

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Brownies
Adapted from www.insidebrucrewlife.blogspot.com


1 box brownie mix
2 8oz packages cream cheese, softened
2 eggs
1 c sugar
1/3 c flour
1 1/3c pumpkin puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon
2/3 tsp ground ginger
2/3 tsp ground cloves


Preheat oven to stated heat on brownie box. Spray a 9x13 inch pan with nonstick spray. Prepare brownie mix according to directions and set aside.

Blend cream cheese until smooth and add egg, combine until smooth. Add the rest of the ingredients and beat until smooth.

Spread 2/3 of the brownie mixture into the prepared pan. Spoon cheesecake mixture into the pan on top of the brownie mix. Spoon remaining brownie mixture over the cheesecake batter and swirl with a knife or chopstick.

Bake for 45 minutes or until mixture is set. Let cool before slicing. Refrigerate leftovers.