Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

IMG_1787.JPGThere’s definitely a chill in the air and everyone seems to be passing the sniffles back and forth, which means it’s time for some chicken soup. While I do love a steaming bowl of chicken noodle soup, I admit that sometimes I like my soup sans noodles. This version is gluten free, but hearty and delicious. The batch here serves a crowd of 8-10, so cut it in half if you have fewer people, or, better yet, invite some family or friends to share it with you, unless you are sick, in which case enjoy a bowl a day for a week as you recuperate.

The amounts and types of vegetables aren’t set in stone here.  Feel free to experiment with other types or use what you have on hand.  Regular peas would be fine in place of sugar snap.  Green beans, broccoli and corn would also work well.  If you don’t have wild rice, you may substitute plain brown rice in its place.

Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

1 large onion, diced
2 Tbsp butter
2 cups wild rice blend
2 tsp salt (or more depending on the saltiness of your stock)
1 tsp freshly ground pepper
12 cups chicken stock
1-2 cups diced carrots
1 cup diced celery
1 cup diced bell peppers
1/2 cup diced sugar snap peas
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken (may use canned)
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

Cook onion in butter until soft and beginning to brown.  Add rice, salt and pepper and stir for a minute.  Add chicken stock and simmer for 45 min – 1 hour or until the rice is cooked through and the darker grains split open and begin to curl.

Add carrots and celery and simmer 10 minutes.  Add peppers, peas and chicken and return to a simmer.  Taste for seasoning and adjust as necessary.  Remove from heat, stir in parsley and enjoy.

This soup is great alone or topped with a drizzle of olive oil or a dollop of pesto.

Hurry Curry

Curry is such a great dish for families.  It’s natural sweetness is a hit with kids, yet it can be spiced up to suit the grownup tastes as well.  If you’d like to keep it mild, be sure to use a mild or sweet curry powder, rather than a hot variety.  For those of you wanting to turn up the heat, try adding a couple dashes of ground cayenne with the other spices.  Be sure to put some rice on before you begin the curry, or you’ll be ready to eat long before the rice is done.  The best part?  It’s on the table in 20 minutes!

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Hurry Curry
adapted from a recipe by The Pioneer Woman

2 tablespoons avocado oil
1 large or 2 small onions, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2-1 jalapeno pepper, finely diced
salt and pepper, to taste
1 tablespoon curry powder, I like a sweet one
Dash garam masala
1 cup chicken broth
1 can (13.5 oz) coconut milk
2 tablespoons honey
juice of 1/2 a lime
1 can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
3-4 smallish red potatoes, cooked and cut into chunks
2 large bell peppers, cut into chunks
1/4 cup chopped cilantro
lime wedges for serving

Precook potatoes by either boiling, steaming or microwaving in one of those handy cloth pouches. (When cool enough to handle, cut into large dice.)

Heat a large skillet on medium for a minute and then add the oil.  Reduce heat to medium-low and saute onions for several minutes, until beginning to brown.  Add garlic and jalapeno and saute for another minute.

Add spices and toast, stirring constantly for 30 seconds.  Stir in broth, coconut milk, honey and lime juice until combined.

Add chickpeas, potatoes and peppers and simmer for 5-10 minutes to combine flavors.  Remove from heat, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve over rice with lime wedges.

Quick and Easy Dinners: Ham Fried Rice

Fried rice is a quick, crowd-pleaser of a one-dish dinner.  I love it for it’s adaptability as much as its taste.  You can switch the protein out for chicken, shrimp or even tofu (gasp!) and the veggies are whatever you have on hand.  Ideally, it is made with leftover, cooled rice, but I’ve been known to whip up a quick batch of white rice and then fry it into this dinner in under 30 minutes.  None of the hungry people at my house seemed to mind!  Assemble the necessaries and have everything ready to go so that when you begin stir frying you can stir continuously.  (Not pictured are soy sauce and the actual ham.  Do as I say, not as I photograph.  Get everything out before.)IMG_0945

Begin by frying the onions in a wok or large skillet on medium to medium-low heat in some avocado oil (or other oil appropriate for high-heat) for several minutes until translucent.  Add the garlic and turn the heat up to medium-high (if your stove top is lacking in ooomph you may need to use a high-heat setting here).  Stir continuously for 1 minute.  Then add the veggies, reserving any soft ones for last (peppers, zucchini, etc.).  Stir fry for several minutes, adding remaining veggies for the final 30 seconds or so.

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Scoot everything over to the side of the wok and add another tablespoon of oil.  Put the rice right on the new oil and begin stir frying.  Add all sauce ingredients and the chopped ham.

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Meanwhile, with your third and fourth arms, because your other two are busy stirring continually, cook the scrambled eggs.  I like to do this as I would an omelette and then slice it into strips afterwards:

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Serve to hungry people.

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Ham Fried Rice
3 Tbsp avocado oil, divided (or other oil suitable for high-heat)
1 small to medium onion, finely diced
3 large cloves garlic, sliced
3 cups or so veggies, diced or cut into small pieces (peas, carrots, corn, green beans, peppers, zucchini, sugar snap peas and broccoli all work well here, as does one of those bags of mixed veggies from the frozen food section of the grocery store)
4-5 cups cooked rice, white or brown
2 cups cooked ham, diced
3-4 Tbsp soy sauce.  Start with 3 and then taste for seasoning
1 1/2 Tbsp oyster sauce
dash fish sauce
freshly ground pepper to taste
3 0r 4 eggs, beaten.

Cook onions in oil over medium until translucent.  Increase heat to medium/high and add garlic, stirring constantly for 1 minute.  Add vegetables (reserving softer veggies for later) and stir-fry for 3-4 minutes, just until crisp-tender.  Add soft veggies for the last 30 seconds or so.

Scoot everything over in the wok and add another tablespoon of oil.  Place rice on top of new oil and begin to stir fry.  Add ham, soy sauce, oyster sauce, fish sauce, and pepper.  Continue stir frying till everything is well mixed and the ham is warmed through.  Meanwhile, cook the eggs omelette style and then remove to a cutting board.  Slice into strips.

Place rice mix in large serving bowl and top with strips of egg.  Serve with additional soy sauce at the table.