Thursday, February 7, 2013

Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup

A big winter storm blowing in up north... So I thought I'd give you guys a new recipe to warm up with! Pretty much this is a chicken noodle soup but with lemon added to the broth. But it is a light meal if you have a bigger lunch and this can be prepared very quickly!

I adapted this recipe from two blogs (Panera's Low Fat Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup and Two Peas and Their Pod) to create the recipe below.

To adjust this to a faster cooking time use precooked chicken (left overs or store bought rotisseree chicken). If you have fresh chicken instead, cook it in the skillet while the onions/carrots/celery are cooking and the broth is starting to come together. This also would have a been a great soup minus the chicken too, just add in some extra veggies and it would be so flavorful!!
I didn't have orzo so I broke up some pieces of linguine and used that instead. I had a small bit of broccoli left over so I added that in the pot. Some baby spinach or green beans also could have been a nice addition. I might sub in chickpeas or cannellini beans next time fo the chicken.
Lemon Chicken Orzo Soup
Makes 2-3 servings
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 small onion, diced
1 carrot, peeled and sliced into 1/4 inch thick
1 celery stalk, thinly sliced
4 cups of chicken broth
Zest of 1 lemon
Juice of 1 lemon (about 1/3 cup)
1 bay leaf
1 1/2 cups orzo pasta
2-3 cups diced chicken
1 tsp dried flat-leaf parsley
Salt and pepper, to taste

In a large stockpot, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Sauté the onion, garlic, carrots, and celery until tender, about 5 minutes.
Season with salt and pepper.
Add the chicken broth, lemon zest, and bay leaf and bring to a boil.
Add the chicken and simmer until chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes. Add dried parsley and lemon juice.
Meanwhile, cook pasta separately according to the box directions, and then combine into the soup when serving.
Discard the bay leaf prior to serving. Ladle the soup into bowls and serve!

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bites

Here are some easy no bake bite sized snacks! I looked at many different recipes for no bake granola bars including the recipes from How Sweet Eats, Smashed Peas and Carrots, and GranolaNola in order to come up with a combination that I would enjoy.  

I love granola and granola bars. I don't really like protein bars. They have this funny after taste. So here are some relatively healthy snacks to munch on while filling you up.

Some ideas: you can change the nuts in the recipe, change the peanut butter to almond butter or walnut butter or soy nut butter, add in raisins or dates or dried apricots, and any other fixin's until you would enjoy! 

Using the stand mixer combines the ingredients better than stirring with a spoon. It was hard to roll into balls by hand because it was sticky but it wasn't sticky enough to use the cookie scoop so I pushed the mixture into a mini muffin tin and let it chill overnight.
I put the ingredients in Recipes.Sparkpeople Calculator to see what the approximate nutrition of each bite. The findings were 127 Calories, 8 g Fat, 1.6 g Sat fat, 11.2 g Carbohydrates, 4.5 g Protein

I had to add in a lot of peanut butter this time because I added in extra oats.  The nutrition info above is based off of 1 cup of peanut butter.

Next time I will use less oats, I adjusted the recipe below from 1 1/2 cups of oats (which I had used) to 1 cup below. I think adding more honey will help the ingredients stay together better as well. I used less than the recommended 1/4 cup of honey, next time I would use the full 1/4 cup. I also want to try to add in a couple tbsp of protein powder, perhaps vanilla flavored? To maintain the correct consistency with adding in the protein powder I would in less dry ingredients (maybe even less oats?) and gradually add in the peanut butter/nut butter until it looks about right.

Update (4/7/2013) 
2 cups toppings*
+ 1 cup oats
+ 3/4 cup PB (or other nut butter)
+ 1/4 c honey (plus an addition tbsp or two if the texture isn't right)
= approx 24 mini muffin bites and 3 reg muffin bites

*toppings = chopped nuts (almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts) / seeds (sunflower, chia, ground flax) / dried fruit (apricots, raisins, craisins, etc) / dark chocolate / etc

All the stuff minus the pb, honey, and vanilla
Fill the mini muffin tins and then pop in the fridge

No Bake Peanut Butter Granola Bites
Makes 24 bites
1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
½ cup ground flaxseed
2 tablespoons chia seeds
¼ cup of sunflower seeds
¼ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ cup raisins
2 tablespoons chopped dark chocolate 
¼ teaspoon vanilla extract 
½ to 1 cup creamy peanut butter, melted and slightly cooled (microwave about 30 seconds) 
¼ cup honey

Combine all the ingredients. Push the mixture into mini muffin tins and then put the tray in the fridge. Keep in a air tight container in the fridge to maintain freshness.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Chicken Pot Pie

Chicken pot pie is one of my favorite comfort foods and is tastes great as a leftover. When I was in college I realized that I should make the crust separate from the filling so I could make individual servings and not have a soggy crust. It would taste fresh made instead of leftovers! And cooks faster than having to heat it in the oven or risk a soggy crust in the microwave.

This recipe was adapted from my own kitchen and from Simply Scratch. I like to think that this is a straightforward recipe with no random ingredients. It cooks quickly and makes quite a bit. I only used 3 chicken thighs and it could have used probably an additional one. I am actually really happy with how this recipe came out and wouldn't change any of the seasonings.

Note: The chicken could cook in the pot with the rest of the meal instead of in a frying pan. Add the chicken (small dice) in just before adding in the liquids. Cook a few minutes then add the potatoes and about 1 cup of stock. Stir around to create the thickened gravy. Add the rest of the stock and simmer until potatoes are fork tender and chicken is done.  

Another option is to use a rotisserie chicken from the store.

Fork tender potatoes literally means, when a fork is poked into the potato that it will come off the fork easily.

Saute the veg in some oil
Cover in the flour
Add butter
Meanwhile cook some chicken
Add liquids, potatoes, seasonings
Add chicken and frozen veggies when potatoes
are tender and liquid is thickened

Top with a biscuit!

Chicken Pot Pie
serves 4

3 - 5 pieces of chicken thighs, or breast
3 tbsp Butter
2 whole Carrots, peeled and diced small (or about 1 ½ cups of baby carrots)
2 Celery Stalks, diced small
1 small Onion, peeled and diced small 
3 medium Potatoes, diced small
1/2 cup Flour
2 - 3 cups Chicken Broth, warmed
1-1/2 cups Whole Milk
1 tablespoon Dried Parsley
1 teaspoon Dried Thyme

1 teaspoon Kosher Salt, more or less to taste
1 1/2 teaspoon Black Pepper, more or less to taste
1 bag frozen mixed veggies (Mine was a country mix with carrots, peas, green beans, corn, and lima beans)
1 can of Pillsbury biscuits (cooked according to directions for as many servings as you want)

Heat a frying pan and add some oil. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Cook chicken until done (no pink inside), dice.

Melt 1½ tablespoons of butter in a large pot. Add in the diced carrots, celery, onions, salt, and pepper (1 tbsp) cook. Cook until the onions are soft and translucent and the carrots are soft, approx 5 minutes. Add another 1½ tbsp of butter and stir until melted. Add in flour, stir until all the veggies are coated with the flour and the flour isn’t white anymore.

Pour in ½ cup to 1 cup of the chicken broth and stir until slightly thickened. Pour in the rest of the chicken broth, milk, potatoes, parsley, and thyme. Simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened and potatoes are fork tender (approx 10-15 minutes).

Add more flour in about ¼ cup at a time if broth/gravy isn’t thick enough.

Add chicken and frozen veggies. Once the veggies are warmed it is ready to serve!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Blueberry Pancakes

Looking for an easy, light, and fluffy pancake recipe that has standard ingredients? Look no further!I adapted it from Allrecipes.

The recipe made 4 1/2 pancakes, I suppose I make them bigger than "serving size"! The recipe says that it makes 8 servings.

Remember, when mixing the batter, there should be lumps. If you don't have lumps you have over mixed the batter which can cause it to be tough or chewy.

I substituted brown sugar for the white (just because). I used about 1 1/2 tbsp of melted butter instead of 3. I added in vanilla extract. I used bacon grease to oil the pan instead of butter or regular oil. I added blueberries once the pancake batter was poured on the skillet.

Click here for the apple cinnamon pancakes from this fall.

Small lumps!
Just made some bacon in the pan too
Bubbles just before flipping, note the edges
rounding out too

Pancake Recipe
Makes approx 4 - 8 pancakes

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon white sugar (or brown)
1 1/4 cups milk
1 egg
3 tablespoons butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and sugar. Make a well in the center and pour in the milk, egg, vanilla, and melted butter; mix until slightly lumpy.
Heat a lightly oiled frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each pancake. This is the time to add any berries.
Once there are larger bubbles appearing (approx 2-4 minutes), flip the pancake and cook for another two minutes or until turning golden brown.
Serve hot!