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Chicken Noodle Soup

October 20, 2017

I’m so excited to bring you week one of a four week wellness series of some of my favorite TLC recipes for my family. First up, Chicken Noodle Soup.

Fall has descended upon Santa Fe in all its glory. The gold and amber leaves fall from the trees with every windy gust, and the watermelon sunsets settle into darkness earlier with every passing day. In other words, the time for slippers, warm blankets and cozy bowls of steaming soup has arrived and I could not be happier about it.

With the change of the seasons, my four year old son River, brought home some kind of preschool cold and within two days, all four of us had come down with it. By some miracle I had the leftovers of a roasted chicken in the fridge. (Thank goodness!!). Then I had a few standard items I always try to keep on hand: carrots, celery, onion, garlic. There were lots of kale still growing out in the yard and I found some dried linguine pasta in the pantry.

I knew I just needed an hour to power through and make a pot of chicken noodle soup for us. Honestly, it felt more like a healing tonic eating it over the next few days. It brought us so much nourishment and warmth.

It can easily be made without chicken or even noodles. Just use vegetable stock instead and increase the veggies, maybe adding some additional vegetables like potatoes, peas, mushrooms, squash, extra greens or even diced tomatoes.

I hope this recipe of chicken noodle soup keeps your family warm and cozy in the chilly months ahead.

Ingredients
2 T. olive oil
1 medium onion (red or yellow), diced
4 stalks of celery, diced or sliced
2 big carrots, diced or sliced
2-6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 T. fresh rosemary, finely chopped (or thyme or both)
1 lemon, zested and juiced
8 c. chicken stock (or vegetable broth)
2 c. cooked chicken meat, picked from bone or diced (white, dark or combo)
2 c. cooked noodles, cut into bite sized pieces if needed
2 c. fresh greens, torn or sliced (kale, beet greens, spinach, chard, etc.)

Method
1.) Heat olive oil in a heavy bottomed soup pot over medium heat.
2.) Add onion, celery and carrot. Cook for a few minutes stirring occasionally. If you want a richer, carmalilzed flavor, let the vegetables (aka mirepoix) cook until they pick up a bit of color.
3.) Add garlic and rosemary. Stir and cook another minute being careful the garlic doesn’t burn.
4.) Add lemon juice and zest. If you let your vegetables carmelize, use a wooden spoon to scrape any goodness from the bottom of the pan (aka deglaze).
5.) Add chicken stock and cooked chicken meat. Bring to a simmer and cook for 30 minutes.
6.) Check seasoning. Add salt and pepper as needed.
7.) Five minutes before serving add cooked noodles and greens to the pot.

Ratatouille

August 24, 2017

There is a window of time each year where the stars align, the warm winds blow during the day (and maybe could do a better job of cooling at night) but hey it’s worth it, because the queen of all summer dishes has arrived…ratatouille.

The summer staple is smooth and elegant, has a complex texture, bright and bold flavors, and can be enjoyed in oh so many ways. Ratatouille originated in Nice, France where poor farmers cooked this simple vegetable stew to put to use vegetables available to them in the summer months.

This is also where the dried herb blend, herbs de Provence comes in. There are many variations to this regionally inspired spice blend, but the key ingredients are:
summer savory
thyme
basil
marjoram
lavender
parsley
oregano
tarragon
fennel seed and
mint.

This is optional, but adds a third dimension to the dish. I kind of think of it as without herbs de Provence you are sitting in a beautiful restaurant enjoying a simple and delicious summer lunch. When you add herbs de Provence to ratatouille, it’s like the window next to your table is pushed open and a balmy summer breeze enters the room. All of a sudden you notice the garden outside, you can smell the fresh herbs and onions growing just a stones throw away, the stalks of purple lavender sway back and forth and you relax back into your chair and reach for your wine, THAT’S the (totally optional of course) magic of this herb combination.

This recipe calls for the vegetables to be cut into a 1/2 inch dice. You can easily change this to 1 or even 2 inch. This is a rustic dish so it is not as important how big or small the pieces are, but rather that all the pieces are roughly the same size so they cook evenly.

Ingredients
4 T. Olive oil
1 T. Herbs de Provence
Pinch of dried chili flakes (optional)
1 large red onion, 1/2 in. dice
5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
2 T. Tomato paste
1 medium eggplant, 1/2 in. dice
2 red bell peppers, 1/2 in. dice
2 medium zucchini, 1/2 in. dice
3 ripe medium tomatoes, 1/2 in. dice (or can of whole tomatoes, crushed)
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 c. Fresh basil leaves, sliced or torn

Method
1.) preheat oven to 400.
2.) heat oil in a Dutch oven style heavy bottomed pot over medium heat.
3.) add herbs de Provence, dried chili flake and cook for a minute or two.
4.) add onion and garlic and cook for about five minutes stirring frequently.
5.) add tomato paste and cook another minute.
6.) add eggplant, red bell pepper, zucchini and tomatoes to pot and stir everything together.
7.) transfer pot to oven and cook for about one hour.
8.) add fresh basil before serving.
9.) enjoy hot or cold!

Components
-serve over pasta or quinoa
-enjoy warm on its own
-serve over squash or sweet potatoes
-serve cold on sandwiches
-serve on toasted bread
-serve over polenta/grits

Everyday Tomato Sauce

June 20, 2017

This is one of those staple recipes that literally takes five minutes to get all the ingredients in a pot. The smell of tomatoes gently cooking with hints of garlic, basil and sweet onion evokes the best kind of food memories, bringing me right back to childhood holiday’s spent with my grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins scattered about the Bronx, Queens and Long Island. Where there was a pot of simmering tomato sauce, there was always other good things to follow like baked ziti, spaghetti, meatballs or Italian sausages.

You can use canned tomatoes or fresh tomatoes. Using canned tomatoes are quick but when the sweet spot of summer hits and ripe tomatoes are available at the farmers market, it’s well worth it to make fresh.

I also like making a bigger batch because if you have leftover sauce you can always find a use for it over the next few days…like a dip for crusty garlic bread, or baking some eggs in the sauce for a tasty breakfast, or adding some wine or cream for a reclaimed pasta sauce. This is such a summer essential I hope you make it often and enjoy<3.

Ingredients
2 (28 oz.) cans, whole San Marzano tomatoes
OR 2# of your favorite ripe tomato variety
1 large carrot, shredded
1 yellow sweet onion, quartered
3-5 garlic cloves, crushed
a pinch of sugar
a pinch of salt and pepper (to taste)
3 T. Butter
a handful of fresh basil, stems left on
a pinch of red pepper flakes (optional)

Method
1.) If you’re using canned tomatoes skip to step #9
2.) If you’re using fresh tomatoes, bring a large pot of water to a boil.
3.) Prepare your ice bath by filling a large bowl halfway with ice and enough cold water to just barely cover the ice.
4.) Wash the tomatoes, remove the stem and with a knife and cut a small “X” in the bottom of each one.
5.) When the water comes to a boil you are ready to blanch the tomatoes. Working in batches, gently place tomatoes in the water (you don’t want to overfill the pot with tomatoes to the point where the water stops boiling) and cook the tomatoes for about a minute, or until you see the skin start to wrinkle and separate from the tomato.
6.) Using a slotted spoon transfer the cooked tomatoes to the ice bath and let hang out there for a few minutes until they are completely cool then transfer these tomatoes to an empty bowl.
7.) Once all the tomatoes are blanched and cooled, you can peel the tomatoes easily with your fingers.
8.) Pulse the tomatoes in a food processor a few pulses for chunky sauce or a bit more for smooth sauce.

9.) In a large heavy bottomed pot, put canned or fresh tomatoes
10.) Add carrot, onion, garlic, sugar, salt, pepper, basil, butter and red pepper flakes if you want to add some heat.
11.) Bring tomato sauce to a simmer and continue cooking for about 45 minutes.
12.) Check seasoning and adjust as necessary. Trust your taste buds! You might need a bit more sugar, salt or pepper depending upon your preference.
12.) With a slotted spoon remove the onion, garlic and basil stems and you are ready to use or serve!

Component in Action
-Serve with your favorite pasta
-Serve with your favorite grilled meats
-Add a bit of white wine and saffron and serve with grilled fish
-Use as a dip for toasted garlic bread or roasted veggies like cauliflower or eggplant

How to Build a One Pot Wonder

May 8, 2017

Tonight I needed to make dinner fast for many reasons. Fox is four months and teething and River is four years and wanted to put together every puzzle in the house…together. This is what life is made of. This is what I’ll think of longingly 20 years from now I’m sure, yet I always feel like I am trying to do stuff so I can go do other stuff. For some reason the other stuff seems more pressing, like dishes and laundry and even making meals. But today we made all the puzzles, I nursed the baby so many times I lost count and Hans was able to come home for a quick dinner before heading back out again. I’m not gonna sugarcoat it, i was feeling stressed by the time five rolled around. After all, I had been trying to make a cup of tea since 1pm. All of this is to say that we have to make choices everyday and sometimes those choices need to include more time with family and less time in the kitchen.

There are a few things I try to keep on hand in the pantry and fridge: fresh garlic, fresh ginger, lemons, coconut cream or milk, fresh dark greens like spinach or kale and turmeric. It just so happens that these ingredients saved the day. But just because these specific ingredients saved my day, doesn’t help you much if your fridge and pantry tell a different story. This is why learning how to build a one pot wonder is so much more important than just following a recipe. You are the pot stirrer. You are the flavor expert for you and your people. Once you know what blocks to use, then you can start to riff in the kitchen and feel more confident.

You build a one pot wonder from the pot up. A hearty glug of olive oil over medium heat and then you begin building, stirring as you go.

Ingredients
1 onion
a couple T. of fresh ginger and garlic (chopped)
a heaping t. of curry powder
a t. of ground tumeric (or if you have fresh add it chopped with the ginger and garlic)
salt (to taste)
big splash of white wine (optional)
juice from half a juicy lemon
1 can of coconut milk or coconut cream (unsweetened)
1 head of chopped cauliflower (or riced cauliflower)
around 10 dates (chopped)
1 can black beans (rinsed)
1 c. frozen peas
a bunch of fresh spinach (washed well)

Method
1.) Add onion (chopped or sliced)
2.) Add some aromatics, in this case I added finely chopped fresh ginger and garlic.
3.) Add dried spices. Tonight I added curry powder, ground turmeric and a sprinkle of salt.
4.) Deglaze. This means add a bit of liquid to release everything from the bottom of the pot. I had an open bottle of white wine in the fridge so I added a big splash of wine, a half a lemon juice and a can of coconut milk.
5.) Add in hard vegetables and anything you want to cook. I added a bag of riced cauliflower from Trader Joe’s and some chopped dates. Let it cook for fifteen minutes.
6.) Now add anything that doesn’t take long to cook. I added a rinsed can of black beans and a cup of frozen peas.
7.) A few minutes before you sit down to eat, throw in a bag of fresh spinach (or other cooking greens) and put a lid on for five minutes. Boom!

Component in Action
-In addition to adding the onion at the beginning, you could also add carrot, celeriac, celery or tomatoes, bell peppers or even bacon.
-some other options for aromatics? try lemongrass, fresh tumeric, rosemary (finely chopped or whole sprigs so you can pull out later, fresh thyme finely chopped)
-Instead of curry, you could add herbs de provance, or even dried chilis or chili powder. You could also skip this step and wait until the end and add lots of fresh herbs like basil or cilantro or parsley or chives.
-for deglazing you could also use stock or even a few big splashes of cream.
-Instead of cauliflower you could add butternut squash, sweet potatoes, soaked dried beans…
-Instead of canned beans and frozen peas you could throw in towards the end other green vegetables like broccoli
-Instead of a bunch of spinach at the end you could also throw in other greens like swiss chard, rapini or kale.