Friday, October 26, 2012

Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice Soup with Caramelized Onions

I love curling up with a nice hot bowl of soup when the weather gets cold. It's the end of October in Chicago, so it should be soup weather, but somehow it was 70 degrees all week after I made this soup.

Cream of Chicken and Wild Rice soup is one of my favorite soups of all time. It's also pretty bad for you, especially when you get it at a restaurant or store. Luckily, the slow cooker makes this soup especially easy to prepare, and when you make it at home you can control the salt content and load it up with whatever veggies you like! I also opted to thicken it by mixing flour into evaporated milk instead of adding heavy cream in a feeble attempt to reduce calories.

For a couple of days I considered making caramelized onions the base of the soup but I could not convince the boyfriend to see the genius behind that idea. I thought "they're sweet and very rich-tasting, perfect for a creamy, comforting bowl of soup," but he was worried that it would end up tasting like a strange french-onion/wild rice hybrid. Fine, whatever. I am very stubborn, but occasionally willing to compromise, so I decided to make caramelized onions and add them as a garnish.


Olive Oil
1 Large Onion, chopped
5-6 Stalks of Celery, Chopped
5-6 Carrots, Peeled and Chopped
3 Large Chicken Breasts, Chopped
1 Cup Uncooked Wild Rice
6-8 Cups Chicken Broth
1 1/2 tsp Marjoram (or 1 tsp Oregano + 1/2 tsp dried mint leaves + 1/4 tsp orange peel)
1 Can Evaporated Milk
1/4 Cup Flour


Heat oil in a large pan.

When oil ripples add onion and cook until just tender.  

Add onion, celery, carrots, chicken, rice, broth, salt, and pepper to slow cooker. 

Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours, or until chicken is cooked and vegetables are tender.  If you don't want creamy soup, this is a delicious chicken and rice soup, as is!

Whisk flour into evaporated milk and stir into soup. Add Marjoram. Heat until soup thickens to desired consistency.

Caramelized Onions
3-4 Large onions, sliced
Olive oil

Coat a large, flat-bottomed skillet with olive oil and heat on low until oil ripples. Add onions and stir to coat in oil.

Cook, stirring occasionally for 40-50 minutes, or until onions are soft and caramelized. 

 Since I'm using onions as a garnish I decided to cook them a little bit longer to add a different texture to the soup.


Slow Cooker Safety Tips:

When starting with raw meat, use extra care not to lift the lid and be sure to cook meat thoroughly (especially poultry, cook to 165 degrees). Slow cookers work by trapping heat and creating a moisture seal, so every time you lift the lid heat escapes and the seal is broken. It may not seem like a lot, but it takes about an hour for the slow cooker to recover from the trauma of premature lid lifting. 

I recommend not using an extension cord with a slow cooker but if you absolutely MUST, make sure it is the same electrical rating as your slow cooker to ensure that the cooker heats and maintains temperature properly. Also, be sure the cord is not obstructing any path that you or a pet may take. 

Stay safe out there kids!

Monday, October 22, 2012

Warm Onion Dip

Remember awhile back when I made my friend's Beer and Cheese dip? Well that was actually the second dip recipe I’ve gotten from Kate. We were roommates freshman year of college, and after a weekend at home she brought back this amazing warm onion dip. We rationed carefully, sharing a bowl over Elf, which we watched at least 3 times a day because our dorm's closed-circuit channel played it constantly. Does that sound like a complaint? It's definitely not. Elf is my top One favorite movie ever in life.

Anyway, back to the Onion Dip: super easy, delicious.


2 packages Cream Cheese, Softened
1 Large Onion, Chopped
1 Cup Sour Cream
1 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
Pita Chips, Crackers, Veggies to dip


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix everything (except dippers) together. Put into a baking dish. Bake about 30 minutes until top is brown and bubbly.

Eat while watching Elf.


Friday, October 19, 2012

Wikipedia Enchiladas

I've been trying to get away from buffalo chicken recipes, but I love using poached, shredded chicken because it's so easy to make and have on hand and it's a cheap way to add meat to a meal. I've also been enjoying spicy dishes lately and I wanted to make something spicy but not hot sauce-y so I thought Tex-Mex! I looked up the Wikipedia entry for enchiladas and it told me that I can do whatever I want, as long as it's topped in a tomato and chile sauce. Thanks Wikipedia!!!

2 cups rice, cooked
3 chicken breasts, poached and shredded
8oz cream cheese, softened
1 can diced green chiles
Chili Powder
1 jar green enchilada sauce
10 large tortillas
Mexican blend cheese


Preheat oven to 350 degrees

 Combine chicken, cream cheese, chiles, and spices to taste.

Layer rice and chicken mixture in tortillas and roll them up

Place tortillas in a lightly greased baking pan

Pour enchilada sauce over tortillas and sprinkle with as much cheese as you want. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and put under the broiler for about 5 minutes.

 I topped my enchilada with Cholula and ate with a dollop of sour cream.

Soooooooo Yummy!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

SLOW COOKER!!! Loaded Baked Potato Chowder

 Hello Old Friend!

It's that time of year. The air is crisp, football takes over my weekends, and my CrockPot comes out of hiatus.  Glorious! This season's first recipe is Loaded Baked Potato Chowder. Potatoes and onions cook together and all of the delicious toppings are added in. The starchiness of the potatoes thickens this so you don't need to make a slurry. Be sure to have plenty of chicken broth on hand so you don't end up with slow-cooked mashed potatoes, which would be delicious but not quite the same.

5 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and diced
1 large onion, diced
48-64 oz chicken broth
1/2 c half and half
Cheddar cheese
Green onions (or chives)


Combine potatoes, onion, 48 oz chicken broth, salt, and pepper in the slow cooker. Cook for about 4 hours on high, 8 on low, or until potatoes are soft.

Turn off slow cooker. With a slotted spoon, remove about 1 cup of potatoes and mash with 1/4 cup of half and half.

Return mashed potatoes to slow cooker and mix in. Add additional chicken broth until desired consistency is reached. Add remaining half and half, bacon, 1/2 cup of cheddar cheese, and green onions.

You can also omit the bacon, cheese, and green onions and serve on the side as garnishes.

Orrr you can do what I did and add all of those things to the soup AND add more to garnish. Yum!



Thursday, October 11, 2012

Coycat Recipe: Southwest Egg Rolls

I love appetizers. I'm not sure if I've mentioned that before. One of my favorites is the southwest egg rolls that every chain restaurant seems to have some version of. I especially enjoy the avocado ranch dip that comes with them. It's scientifically proven that foods become 10 times better when you dip them in something, especially if that something contains avocado. 

It's nice that you can buy frozen versions of a lot of those restaurant appetizers, but it would be nicer if they were less expensive, had more reasonable portions, and weren't horrible for you. 

I FINALLY went grocery shopping last weekend (it had been like 5 weeks...) and I wandered down the prepared frozen foods aisle. I stopped in front of the appetizers and spent an embarrassing amount of time deciding whether I should buy something. I realized that I could easily make more egg rolls for much cheaper and they'd definitely be healthier. I stared at the picture on the box trying to discern ingredients. Here's what I came up with:

1 cup frozen corn
1 cup frozen spinach (thawed and squeezed dry)
1/2 cup green onions, chopped
1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
1 can diced green chiles
Chili Powder
1 cup Mexican blend cheese
1 package eggroll wrappers

Preheat oven to 400 degrees and cover a baking sheet with foil.
Combine all ingredients (except egg roll wrappers), seasoning to taste with salt, cumin, and chili powder

Put about 2 tbsp of the mixture onto egg roll wrapper and wrap tightly. I start at the corner, pulling the sides in and then finishing to the opposite corner. Wet the end to seal.

Place sealed side down and spray with cooking spray or brush with olive oil.

Bake for 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Flip egg rolls and bake for an additional 10 minutes

As I mentioned, I really like the avocado ranch. I decided to make a crappy version of that by combining mashed avocado and ranch. I didn't break a sweat coming up with this...

1 avocado
1/2 cup ranch (may need more depending on the size of your avocado)

Mash avocado. Mix with ranch.

I was pretty satisfied with this version. I feel a lot better about it knowing what I put into it. I tried to make this as healthy as possible. I used just enough cheese to hold the filling together and obviously baking them cuts a lot of calories. I hate beans (gritty mushy texture. blech) but I used them in this recipe because they're super filling and nutritious, plus they're kind of buried in corn so I can tolerate them.

It was 40 degrees in Chicago today, but I feel like I'm in Santa Fe eating these egg rolls! Riiiiiight.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Feeding a Cold: Jalapeno Grilled Cheese

I'm getting sick. Everyone around me has been getting sick (co-workers, roommate, my's everywhere!) and I have finally been hit with the bug. I'm pretty pathetic when I'm sick, but not your typical whiny sick pathetic. I think I'm a martyr, like I'm the only person in the world who has ever been sick so I deserve to treat myself. As a result, I am a bit indulgent when I'm sick. Maybe I'm trying to bribe my body into getting better. Or maybe I just reward myself for being a good little patient. Either way, I feel sick and I want cheese. Enter grilled cheese sandwich recipes.

The other day, I came across this recipe for jalapeno popper grilled cheese (which looks delicious and I will definitely make someday) but even though it seems super easy to make, I still wanted something simpler. Also I didn't have the exact ingredients on hand, and this sounds perfect so I want to make it exactly as is. I took inspiration from this and adapted it to make one sad, lonely sandwich for a sad girl who is getting a bad cold.

I was somehow out of cheese (what?!), so I stole some from my roommate who somehow always has the ingredient I lack (thanks roomie!) and I used about half a jar of pickled jalapenos. Depending on your spice preference and whatever you have on hand, you can use more or less (or fresh instead of jarred).

I'm not reinventing the wheel here...this post is more about the technique than the "recipe" or ingredients. Cooking for one is an art form, people.

Ingredients (for 1 sandwich):
2 pieces of Bread
Shredded Cheese (about 1/2 handful...or more...)
Jalapenos, diced


Heat up soup in a very clean pot - trust me, this is important.

Preheat a pan. Butter one side of each piece of bread.
Combine cheese and jalapenos.
Place one piece of bread, butter side down, in pan.

Pile cheese and jalapenos on bread. Top with the other piece of bread, butter side up.

Take the hot pot that your soup is simmering away in and place it on top of the sandwich, pressing down lightly for about 20-30 seconds or until the bread pulls cleanly off of the bottom of the pot.

Pour soup into a bowl and put the pot in the sink...don't put it back on the burner! There's butter and food particles on it that could start on fire!

Now you can enjoy your soup and sandwich!

Get well soon, Friends!