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Weeknight

Asian, Chicken, Healthy, Herbs, Louisiana, Soups, Vegetables, Weeknight

Pollen got you down? Chicken & vegetable soup with wontons

March 29, 2015

The sinister underside to Louisiana’s otherwise perfect spring is pollen — and that stuff is about to kill me! Recently sprouted leaves on our neighborhood’s famed oak trees are now layered with fuzzy clumps of oak pollen that give the trees a yellowish sheen. Stand near one long enough and you see pollen dust falling like evil snow. It’s all over our cars and streets. There. Is. No. Escape.

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Most years, this isn’t a big deal to me, but I must be getting old and intolerant because being outside makes my head feel like an oversized melon.

Only one thing to do – make a spring soup.

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Asian, Healthy, Leftover Magic, Rice, Southern, Weeknight

Leftovers make great fried rice

February 4, 2015

How many times have you had leftover rice sitting in your fridge? For us here in south Louisiana, it’s a lot. Red beans and rice, crawfish étouffée, gumbo and other dishes can leave behind a surplus of perfectly cooked rice. But no matter where you live or what you cook, there’s no need to toss the rice that may be taking up space in your refrigerator. Combined with the roast chicken or grilled shrimp that are probably also lying in wait, those plump grains are easily converted into fried rice, a quick and convenient dish with great umami and rib-sticking flavor.

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Meats, Soups, Weeknight

Meatball madness

January 13, 2015

Lately, I’m in love with meatballs. All kinds, not just in spaghetti. You can toss them in soups, serve them on skewers with a variety of sauces or slide them between crusty po’boy or hero bread. They’re great with all sorts of ground meats including veal, lamb, pork, turkey, beef, sausage or chicken, and are further enhanced by different cheeses, bits of ham or prosciutto, pesto or fresh herbs. You can roll meatballs in breadcrumbs and pan-fry them in a skillet, or you can bake them on a cookie sheet to save calories. I find that meatballs in any form are appealing to most kids — mine included — and they’re great for making ahead and freezing. I like to work them into the weeknight line-up and save myself some time and grief.

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Chicken, Southern, Weeknight

Weeknight Comfort: Chicken Pot Pie

December 4, 2014

Over the next few weeks, you need a little evening comfort to get you through the insanity that defines the holiday season. Here’s a straightforward and foolproof formula for one of my favorite belly warmers – homemade chicken pot pie.

One problem with chicken pot pie recipes is that many are way too complicated. I promise, mine is not. Another problem is that the white roux intended to bind the chicken and veggies is often either too runny or too gummy. Here, the sauce is balanced. Feel free to substitute your favorite ingredients, but the keep the proportions the same. I like to roast my own chicken beforehand and make an herby pie crust with fresh rosemary, but for the sake of sanity, you can certainly use rotisserie bird and store bought pastry.

Enjoy!

Serves 6-8

3 tablespoons olive oil

1 onion, chopped

1 cup chopped celery

1 cup chopped fresh carrots

4 tablespoons butter

4 tablespoons all-purpose flour

¾ cup chicken stock

¾ cup milk

1 teaspoon salt

Fresh ground black pepper to taste

1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

1 cup frozen peas (no need to thaw)

2 cups cooked chicken, cubed or roughly chopped

1 pie crust

Preheat oven to 350 F. In a large skillet, heat oil to medium high and sauté onion, celery and carrots for about 5 minutes or until fairly soft. Turn off heat and set aside. In a separate large skillet, heat butter until melted, then add flour. Whisk, or stir well with a roux spoon. Add chicken stock and milk, and whisk or stir until mixture thickens (within a couple of minutes). Add salt, pepper, rosemary, peas, chicken, and sautéed vegetables and cook over low heat for 5-7 minutes. Spray a pie plate (deep dish, preferably) with cooking spray and fill it with mixture. Top with crust. Crimp edges, cut slits in the center and brush surface with an egg white. Bake 50 minutes or until crust is golden and inside is hot and bubbly. Cool slightly before slicing.