Chicken Wild Rice Soup

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ūüôā ¬†Behold, my favorite soup! ¬†I have always loved cream of chicken with rice and especially when wild rice is added. ¬†This recipe has been one of our soup favorites for years. ¬†It always turns out great. ¬†Be sure to add the chicken fond (crusty brown bits on the bottom of your saute pan to the soup). ¬†I usually shred my carrot, but I forgot this time, and chopped it. ¬†It was just fine. ¬†I used red bell pepper instead of green. ¬†Do your own thing with this recipe but follow the basic rules of the amounts of butter, flour, broths etc. I didn’t plan for this recipe and had just milk on hand, so I subbed that for the half-and-half.

For the wild rice, it can be difficult to find. ¬†I found my Lundberg’s wild rice blend (with brown rice) at Whole Foods and later at Jewel. ¬†It’s also available on Amazon.

Use the amount of chicken that works for you. ¬†It doesn’t have to be 3-4 cups.

This recipe makes a lot – but that’s great because you won’t be able to get enough of it. ¬†For single people, you may need to freeze some.

I used my Lodge 7.8 QT. Dutch oven for this recipe for maximum space – Available here on Amazon.¬† I’m sure the 6 QT. would have fit this recipe well, also.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 3-4 cups cooked, cubed chicken¬†

  • ¬ľ cup unsalted butter (I used 3 T. unsalted butter)

  • 4 stalks celery, sliced (about 2 cups)

  • 2 medium carrots, coarsely shredded (2 cups)

  • 1 large onion, chopped (1 cup), or powder

  • 1 medium green bell pepper, chopped (1 cup)

  • Heaping 1/4 cup¬†all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp. salt

  • ¬Ĺ tsp. pepper (freshly ground, please!)

  • 3 cups cooked wild rice (1 cup dry=3 cups finished rice)

  • 2 cups water

  • 3 cups chicken broth (I prefer this brand, if not homemade: Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base).

  • 3 cups half-and-half (or milk). ¬†

  • 2/3 cup slivered almonds, toasted, optional but awesome

  • ¬Ĺ cup chopped Italian flat-leaf parsley

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Begin by getting a head start on cooking your wild rice.  You will need the wild rice pretty soon in step #4.

  2. In a large pot or large Dutch oven, melt unsalted butter over medium heat.

  3. Cook celery, carrots, onion, and bell pepper in butter about 10-15 minutes, stirring frequently, until tender.

  4. Stir in flour, salt, and pepper.  Keep it moving to cook the flour but not too long it burns.

  5. Stir in cooked wild rice, water, and broth.

  6. Heat to boiling, reduce heat.

  7. Cover and simmer 15 mins, stirring occasionally.

  8. Stir in half-and-half or milk, almonds, and parsley. Add cooked chicken.

  9. Heat just until hot (do not boil or soup may curdle and you don’t want to over-cook chicken.)

  10. Serve hot with fresh parsley snipped on top, with crackers, bread, etc.

 

 

Delicious Double Chocolate Chip Zucchini Muffins

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I made this recipe from Damndelicious.net.¬† I had wanted to try a double chocolate muffin but with a hidden health gem – shredded and peeled zucchini – and Greek yogurt. ¬†I will make these FOREVER and I mean it. ¬†They’re delicious and you’d never even care there’s zucchini in there. ¬†Why? Because you can’t taste it! ¬†My son and his friend¬†didn’t care, and my son is picky!

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The flavor is really unique and deliciously chocolatey.

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Her website says they’re only about 195 calories each. ¬†There is absolutely no need to add frosting and ruin this. ¬†It’s delicious all by itself. ¬†I felt zero need for frosting to hide the healthiness. ¬†It’s not a cupcake, it’s a healthy muffin that doesn’t taste too “healthy”!

I am so happy I found this recipe – it’s dessert but it’s on the healthy side – WIN! ¬†

TIP—-> ¬†*I always use unsalted butter for baking and cooking, and add the salt myself on the side (when necessary) to control the salt.

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil*
  • 1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt¬†(I used Fage 2%, my favorite).
  • 2 large eggs¬†(I used Egg-land’s Best cage free eggs). ¬†
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup shredded zucchini¬†(and peeled).
  • 1/2 cup chocolate chips¬†(I used 1/2 milk choc. chips and 1/2 semisweet chips).¬†

*Apple sauce can be substituted.

INSTRUCTIONS:

  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a 12-cup standard muffin tin with paper liners or coat with nonstick spray; set aside.
  • In a large bowl, combine flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, cinnamon and salt.
  • In a large glass measuring cup or another bowl, whisk together sugar, vegetable oil, Greek yogurt, eggs, butter and vanilla.
  • Pour mixture over dry ingredients and stir using a rubber spatula just until moist. Stir in zucchini and chocolate chips. ¬†No need to squeeze zucchini dry. ¬†Check your oven’s real operating temp, but my convection oven needed about 24-25 minutes for the toothpick to come out clean.
  • Scoop the batter evenly into the muffin tray. Place into oven and bake for 20-22 minutes, or until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Remove from oven and cool on a wire rack.

 

 

A Simple Roast Chicken in the Slow Cooker

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I love this recipe because there is barely any work involved and you have a flavorful chicken with the right texture in just a few hours.  I opt for the low setting of 6.5 to 8 hours, and I use an instant read thermometer to ensure the chicken has reached 165 degrees F to be safe.

This isn’t an exact science: you can use the mixture of spices you like, but this is a general recommendation. ¬†Regarding paprika, I like to use mostly if not all SMOKED paprika. ¬†It lends so much unique aroma it’s unbelievable.

Don’t skip for a second on the aluminum foil balls. ¬†Yes, it does use a good amount of foil but it’s worth it and the result will definitely not be the same without those balls to raise the big chicken up.

**I also like to add onion powder, dried oregano, and smoked paprika. ¬†Don’t add liquids.

Pair with brown rice and a salad, as pictured.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 (4 LB.) whole chicken, insides removed and patted dry with a paper towel
  • 1/2 tablespoon paprika (try the smoked paprika!)
  • 2 tablespoons all purpose seasoning (Like Archer Farms House Blend, or make your own like I did)
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic powder
  • 1 tsp coarse salt
  • (Optional add onion powder and/or dried oregano per your tastes.)

 

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Mix together paprika, all purpose seasoning, garlic powder, and salt.  (Add any other optional spices here like onion powder or dried oregano).
  2. Ball up 4 medium-sized balls made from aluminum foil.  Place in bottom of your slow cooker.  These four balls act as a stand for your chicken to keep it from drying out.
  3. Rub seasoning from step #1 over your entire chicken (including pouring some of the seasoning inside the chicken’s cavity).
  4. Place the chicken on top of the foil balls.  Cover and cook on high for 4 Р4 1/2 hours, or on the low setting for 6.5 to 8 hours.
  5. Always check the temperature with a thermometer to make sure it gets to 165* F for food safety.
  6. Let rest 15-20 minutes to seal in the juices before carving.