Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup

Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup - spin on the traditional Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup
I placed Olive’s bowl at the table first so it would have time to cool down while I got mine and Matt’s ready. I started hearing Olive saying, “Mmm!” and “This is so good and juicy, Mama” and at first I assumed she was putting on another one-act play because Olive hasn’t been too enthusiastic about meals, lately.  Certainly not enthusiastic enough to compliment the food.  Usually, it seems as if she just merely tolerates food until she can get down and play again.  And as I thought back while she was inhaling this soup, I remembered the last time she was this enthusiastic about food, it had very similar ingredients in a potato curry Matt made.  She is apparently our Asian flavor lover.  And I love that.  I love that she won’t bat an eye at cilantro, rice wine vinegar, fish sauce and lemongrass.  She will certainly protest if I try to get her to eat…lettuce, or something else benign like that.  But big, bold flavors are her bag (as long as it’s not SPICY!) And the occasional chorus of “mmm” and “this is good, Mama,” is so few and far between that I make mental note of the dishes that inspire that response in her.  I never thought I’d care so much about someone’s opinion of food until I had a child.  But sharing food and sharing a JOY of food is precious and even more so when that person is family.

We’ve done a few spins on classic dishes in the past and have loved the results. We’ve done biscuits and curry “gravy” and a green chili corn chowder and loved the fusion of classic American dishes and flavors from other cultures.  I made up a spin on the classic Campbell’s Chicken and Rice you may have grown up eating, but instead, included all the flavors we love from Asian cultures.  It was super comforting and would be fantastic for a cold, rainy day like we’re having today.  I didn’t have coconut milk, but I think it would be a fantastic addition in place of the heavy cream.  This soup is built with lots and lots of taste-testing along the way.  Every soup should be, I think.  So I’m giving approximate ingredient amounts, but I encourage you to taste and add things you love for yourself.  We added Sriracha (of course) and lots and lots of cilantro as a garnish and some tasty frozen Vietnamese egg rolls for a side and enjoyed the heck out of this dish.  I hope you do, too!  Happy Monday.

Chinese Chicken and Rice

Chinese Chicken and Rice Soup

2 cups shredded chicken from two chicken breasts or 4 chicken legs/thighs (bone in)
2 kaffir lime leaves
A two inch piece of peeled ginger
2 stalks lemongrass, split
1/2 white onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 TBS rice wine vinegar
1 TBS brown sugar
1 tsp fish sauce
1/2 cup heavy cream (or coconut milk)
salt to taste
1 cup jasmine rice
1 carrot, diced small

In a large stock pot, add the (raw) chicken (bone-in) and cover with water till it’s submerged by abut 2 inches. Add the kaffir lime leaves (can be found at most chinese markets in the freezer or fridge section – this isn’t essential but it gives the soup that thing that I can’t describe but it’s wonderful), ginger, lemongrass, onion and garlic and bring the water to a boil.  Let the chicken boil until the internal temp registers at least 165 when inserted into the thickest part of the meat.  Remove the chicken, let it cool, and pull off all the meat.  Return the bones to the pot and let it continue to boil while you cook the rice.

In a small saucepan, add 1 3/4 cups water, a tablespoon of olive oil, the diced carrot and a pinch of salt and the cup of rice.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat, stir and simmer, covered, for 15-20 minutes until tender.

Remove the chicken bones, the lemongrass and onion and discard.  Return the shredded meat to the pot.  Add the vinegar, sugar, fish sauce and salt to the broth until it tastes…right. 🙂 This is the point where you need to trust your palate. You may like it with more vinegar or more sugar, more fish sauce, whatever.  I tasted and adjusted and then added the heavy cream.

Spoon rice into bowls and ladle the chicken soup on top.  Garnish with LOTS of cilantro and serve!

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Creamy Potatoes with Thyme Browned Butter

creamy boiled potatoes with thyme and browned butter
Some days you just need someone to think up a side dish for you. This is not complicated.  This is nothing you couldn’t come up with on your own.  But your brain is zapped. And there are days I stand there with my fridge gaping and I just can’t be creative anymore.  I roasted the potatoes yesterday, I don’t want to roast them again! So, if you’re like me and you don’t necessarily want to do something crazy or ambitious on a Monday evening, but you DO want something different that someone else thought up for you – then this recipe is for you.  Clean, simple, warm, filling and utterly delicious.  Boiling the potatoes in their skins gives them that appealing pop when you bite through the skin and the interior is smooth and creamy.  Add in some browned thyme butter and this could almost be a meal in itself…

…but if you have a three year old who has a bit of an opinion about dinner, then you can’t serve these alone because then she’ll ask, “Where’s the rest of the meal?” She’s been asking me that for about a year, now.  Where she even got that phrase, I’ll never know.  But it’s pretty intimidating.

Creamy Potatoes with Thyme Browned Butter

Boiled Potatoes with Thyme Browned Butter

  • Servings: 4-6 as a side dish
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1 lb baby red potatoes (red creamers)
4 TBS unsalted butter
4-5 sprigs fresh thyme, plus a teaspoon of chopped leaves
kosher salt for seasoning

In a large pot, submerge potatoes and salt the water generously.  Bring to a boil and boil until soft when pierce with a knife.  This took me around 15 minutes.  Drain the potatoes and transfer into a large bowl.  In a small sauce pan, melt the butter over medium heat, and add the thyme sprigs and cook till the foaming subsides.  When brown butter solids start forming at the bottom of the pan and the butter smells nutty, immediately remove from the heat and add the thyme leaves.  Swirl around and then pour over the potatoes, tossing to coat evenly.  Sprinkle the potatoes with kosher salt and serve.

Roasted Coriander Chicken

Cinnamon Coriander Roast Chicken
This is a fabulous way to revive the same ol’ chicken recipes you’ve been using every week for your family.  We came across this flavor combination years ago from Michael Symon but I’ve done this so many times I’ve strayed pretty far from the original recipe for chicken wings and have adapted it to be a wonderful roasted chicken dish.  Have you ever used coriander seeds in your cooking before?  It’s got this tutti-fruity flavor that reminds me of Fruity Pebbles cereal (don’t be horrified, it’s actually really good).  And combine that flavor with cinnamon and the smokiness of cumin and something kind of magical happens.

If you have a problem spending money on a spice you hardly use, let me be the first to direct you to the Ghandi Bazaar on 34th Street here in Lubbock.  If you don’t live in Lubbock, find a local Indian food market or some kind of ethnic market because they sell spices CHEAP.  Why? Because they USE THEM A LOT.  It’s a staple to most other cultures like flour and sugar is to an American.  We bought a 16 oz bag of coriander seeds at Ghandi Bazaar for $2!  That sure beats a tiny jar for $4.50 at the grocery store.  I don’t think I’ll ever use it up…unless I keep making this chicken…which I need to do this week.
Cinnamon Coriander Chicken

Roasted Coriander Chicken

1 chicken, cut into 8 pieces (or pre-cut, but make sure it’s bone-in and skin on)
1/4 cup crushed coriander seeds
1 TBS cinnamon
2 tsp ground cumin
1 TBS kosher salt
1/4 cup olive oil

Preheat oven to 375F.

In a large, ziplock bag, add the chicken pieces and the spices and rub everything around until the chicken is completely coated.  Pour in the olive oil and mush the bag around again, making sure (to the best of your ability) that all the chicken is coated relatively even.

In a 9×13″ glass pan, or on a cooking rack over a rimmed baking sheet sprayed with oil, add the chicken, evenly spaced apart.  Roast for 25-30 minutes, or until a thermometer reads 165 in the thickest piece. I can’t cook chicken without a meat thermometer, so I can’t tell you an exact time.  I just start taking the temp after 30 minutes and leave it in there if it’s not done. 

*so good I made it twice on this blog 😉 with slightly different ratios this time.  See?  I change it all the time.  But it’s always good!

Chicken Tikka Masandwiches

Chicken Tikka Sandwich with Cucumbers
I made one of our favorite Indian dishes the other day from a recipe I saw in the latest issue of Real Simple Magazine and it turned out great!  We had a ton of leftovers and so the next day, I decided to turn them into these amazing little sub sandwiches.  With tons of cilantro, crunchy cucumber and cold sour cream to offset the spicy chicken, it became the perfect sandwich.  I highly recommend doing this original recipe and then adapting it into these tasty little sandwiches.  It would also make an amazing wrap with black beans and rice!

Chicken Tikka Sandwich Shredded Chicken Tikka Sandwich

Chicken Tikka Masala (sandwiches)

1-15 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 tablespoons tomato paste
2 teaspoons garam masala
salt and pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs (about 8 and I used bone-in and the bones came right out – no problem)
1/2 cup heavy cream

In a 4-6 quart slow cooker, add the tomatoes, onion, garlic, tomato paste and spices and stir and taste for seasoning.  Place the chicken thighs over the tomato mixture and cook on low for 8 hours or on high for 4.  Shred the chicken and remove bones (if you used bone-in).  Stir in the heavy cream and let it keep cooking for about 10 minutes while you get everything else ready.  Serve over rice with lots of cilantro, or make these sandwiches by splitting hoagie rolls down the center and layering the chicken with sour cream and topping with fresh sliced cucumber and cilantro.  And garnish with lots of sriracha sauce for extra spice!

The Best Appetizer, Ever

warm dates with olive oil and salt
Okay, so it’s not spinach artichoke dip (the best junky appetizer, ever) but I love it. It’s just three ingredients! It’s salty, sweet, chewy, and indulgent all in one! It’s so easy that it hardly qualifies to be a blog post, but I can’t help it because we love it so much we have it at least once a week so I wanted to share it with you.  I present to you: Warmed dates with olive oil and kosher salt. That’s it.  Matt read about this appetizer in a book I got for him for Christmas called Delancey.  We ate at Delancey’s in Seattle when we were there last year and had some of the best pizza of our lives.  It’s a cute restaurant owned by a husband/wife duo and the book is the tale of their beginnings in the food world and how they combined their talents in opening the perfect pizza shop.  He bakes the pizza and she takes care of appetizers and desserts. It’s kind of a fantasy of Matt’s to do the same and own a brick oven style pizza joint. I could totally run the apps and desserts.  Maybe one day we will after our children are old enough to be our waitstaff 😉

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These warmed dates are in that book – just a simple appetizer that are completely satisfying.  I could honestly have these dates with a slice of Matt’s bread and be totally happy for dinner.  It seems weird and too simple, but it just works.  Simply heat fresh dates on the stove in some good olive oil until they are slightly sizzling.  Then, sprinkle with kosher salt and serve warm.  Amazing and easy and spiffs up your dinner in about 15 seconds.  Also, our opinionated three year old loves them.

Warmed Dates with Olive Oil and Kosher Salt