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Monday, January 30, 2017

Recipe review from 1/23/17

Pretty quiet and uneventful week all the way around.  Our excitement consisted of foiling a small, persistent red squirrel from getting into the bird feeder.  One pole baffle and several trimmed branches later, we had a very perplexed squirrel.  Watching his thought process as he shimmied up the pole only to slide back down, and to run up the mountain ash, only to run back down, was pretty entertaining.

The Meal Plan for week of 1/16:
Sun (L)  leftover tagine  (S) Slow cooked chicken dumpling soup
Mon (Yoga)  leftover chicken soup
Tues - leftover chicken soup
Wed - Chicken, butnut squash and gnocchi dumplings
Thurs (Yoga) - leftovers
Fri - leftover chicken and gnocchi dumplings
Sat (L) out    (S)  leftovers

Lunches - (me)  black bean soup   (Husband) sandwiches

Old Fashioned Chicken and Dumplings Soup (modified American Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution)
I did one significant substitution in this and that was to use a whole, cut-up chicken rather than the boneless, skinless chicken thighs the recipe originally called for.   I also subbed edmame for peas, because I forgot my bag of peas at the Folks place (in the freezer) when I swung by for a visit.  Darn it!   This recipe will easily accommodate peas, edmame, green beans, or similar.

This was really good!  It's been ages since I've had a classic chicken soup with dumplings on the top.  There were almost more dumplings than soup.  Yum!  This made about 6 servings for two of us.  Recommended! 

3 lbs chicken (I used one whole chicken, quartered)
2 onions, minced
2 celery ribs, sliced 1/4" thick
6 garlic cloves, minced or grated
1 tbsp tomato paste
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/3 cup all purpose sherry
4 1/2  cups chicken broth (plus extra if needed)
4 carrots, sliced 1/4 thick
2 bay leaves
1 cup frozen peas (I used edmame)
3 tbsp parsley, chopped

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tbsp baking powder
1 tsp salt
1 cup whole milk (I used goat milk)
3 tbsp butter

1. Pat chicken dry with paper towels and season with salt and pepper.  Heat 1 tbsp oil in 12" skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking.  Brown half of chicken lightly on both sides and transfer to bowl.  Repeat with remaining chicken.

2. Add 1 tbsp oil to pan and heat until shimmering.  Add onions, celery, garlic, tomato paste, and thyme and cook until vegetables are softened and lightly browned, 8-10 minutes.  Stir in flour and cook for 1 minute.  Slowly whisk in sherry, scraping up any browned bits.  Wish in 1 cup broth, smoothing out any lumps.  Transfer to a slow cooker.

3.  Stir in remaining 3 1/2 cups broth, carrots, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Nestle chicken with accumulated juice into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until until chicken is tender, 4-6 hours on low.

4.  Transfer chicken to cutting board, let cool slightly, then shred into bite-sized pieces.  Let stew settle and and remove fat from surface.

5. Strongly Recommended - Transfer mix to large dutch oven.  Stir in shredded chicken, peas and parsley (optional) and season with salt and pepper and bring to a simmer over medium heat.

6. FOR THE DUMPLINGS: Whisk flour, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl.  Heat milk and butter over gentle heat until butter is just melted.  DO NOT OVERHEAT.  Stir milk into flour mixture until just incorporated and smooth.

7. Drop golf ball sized "dumplings" on top of simmering soup leaving about 1/4 inch between each dumpling.  Cover and cook until dumplings have doubled in size, 25 to 35 minutes.  Serve. 

Chicken and Butternut Gnocchi  (Ckng Lght, Jan/Feb 2017)
This was tasty, but I had some issues which were mostly my fault (recipe interpretation):

My co-op only sells bone-in skin on thighs, and I didn't take the time to de-bone. Cooking took a lot longer than I had anticipated and that was with adding in extra time to account for bone-in.

My squash did NOT cook in 8 minutes, and yes, it was cut into small pieces.

I don't have access to ww gnocchi, so I used the local frozen kind that I typically buy. Yum...should have maybe stuck with the vacuum sealed kind (found with the dried pasta) because the frozen turned kinda gloppy/gluey while I was trying to get the squash to finish cooking.

And after all that, I totally spaced adding the spinach...

But, flavor was still good and this could easily be made vegetarian by skipping the chicken completely.

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
4 (6-oz.) skinless, boneless chicken thighs, cut into 1-in. pieces
photo from

3 cups (1/2-in.) cubed peeled butternut squash
1/2 cup chopped yellow onion
1 (12-oz.) pkg. whole-wheat gnocchi
3/4 cup unsalted chicken stock (such as Swanson)
2 tablespoons prepared refrigerated pesto
2 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
1/2 teaspoon chopped garlic
5 ounces baby spinach, chopped
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)
  1. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large skillet over medium-high. Add chicken; cook 5 minutes or until browned. Place chicken in a bowl.

  2. Heat remaining 1 tablespoon oil in pan over medium. Add squash and onion; cook 8 minutes. Add squash mixture to chicken. Add gnocchi to pan; cook 2 minutes. Add chicken mixture, stock, pesto, sage, garlic, and spinach to pan; cook 1 minute. Top with cheese.

Slow cooked Black Bean Soup (modified American Test Kitchen Slow Cooker Revolution)
I loved the simplicity of this recipe:  saute the onions and the spices, toss everything into the slow cooker, and walk away.  I did think this turned out a bit bland despite the chili powder, cumin, and smoked ham hock.

This made a huge batch - enough for about 8 servings.   My guilty pleasure: I served it with Frito scoops.   Recommended! 

3 onions, minced
6 garlic cloves, minced
2 tbsp vegetable oil
2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp cumin (I gotta have my cumin)
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth
3 cups water
1 lb dried black beans (2 1/2 cups), picked over and rinsed
3 celery ribs, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-pieces
2 bay leaves
1 smoked ham hock, rinsed
2 tbsp cilantro, minced fresh cilantro

1.  Heat 1 tbsp oil in a 12" skillet over medium-high heat.  Saute onion, garlic, chili powder until softened.  Put in slow cooker.

2.  Stir broth, water, beans, celery, carrots, and bay leaves into slow cooker.  Nestle ham hock into slow cooker.  Cover and cook until beans are tender, 9-11 hours on low or 5-7 hours on high.

3.  Transfer ham hock to cutting board and let cool slightly.  Shred into bite sized pieces discarding skin and bones.

4.  Using a potato masher, mash mixture until desired consistency.  Add in shredded ham hock and let sit until heated through.  Stir in cilantro, season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. 

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