Thai Chicken Coconut Soup (Gluten and Dairy-Free)

IMG_2231Yes, another soup recipe. These grey days have me hiding under my blankets.

However, I crawled out of my nest of wool socks and heavy blankets to make this fragrant, spicy and dare I say, healing Thai Chicken Soup.

Mmm. This soup. It is bursting with Thai flavors like lime, cilantro, lemongrass….all flavors that have me in a tropical state of mind (whilst I inch the thermostat a little higher….from 62 to 64; I am a thermostat curmudgeon).

We’re adding heartiness with diced chicken thighs. A more flavorful choice than chicken breast; and more affordable. To take the nasty bits off the chicken easily; use kitchen shears. Just snip off the excess fat and any grody bits; and then using the shears, chop chicken into small pieces. Much neater and easier than using a knife and cutting board.

The soup all comes together with coconut milk and tons of sautéed vegetables. Literally, you can throw in whatever vegetable is about to expire in your fridge. Zucchini? Tomato? Broccoli? Green Beans? Kale? Throw. It. In. Easy. Easy. Without the chicken/chicken broth, this dish is completely vegan; and even with the chicken; it’s dairy and gluten-free if you’re into that jazz.  I recommend serving this over a mound of brown rice which makes this a bit more of a one-dish meal and the rice soaks up every delicious bite of soup.

Nothing to do but eat soup and #prayforspring

Thai Chicken Coconut Soup
Adapted from Bon Appetit

2 tbs safflower oil (or coconut oil)
4 cloves garlic, peeled & minced
1 (6″) piece of ginger (about 2 stems); peeled & minced
1 bunch scallions, stems only**
1/2  zucchini, peeled and sliced
1 large carrot, shredded
5 large mushrooms (button or shiitake), sliced
1/2 c. broccoli, crown diced, stem, peeled & shredded
1 jalapeno or red chili pepper, sliced thinly (optional)
Sea Salt
2 tbs (heaping) bottled or fresh lemongrass , sliced
.75 – 1 lb boneless chicken thighs, chopped 1″ pieces
4 c. chicken broth (check your brand for gluten/dairy, if you’re sensitive)
14.5oz (1 can) lite coconut milk
1 lime (juice and zest)
1/2 c. cilantro, stems removed, roughly chopped
Sriracha and Sea salt to taste
2 c. dry brown rice (for serving)
**The stems are perfect here as their strong flavor has time to mellow in the soup.
Feel free to use both white and green if you prefer**

Brown Rice:
In a sauce pot; combine rice and 5 c. cold water. Bring to a boil; and reduce to a low simmer and cover. If serving with soup;  I recommend putting the rice on first; it should take about 50 minutes to cook; the time it should take to prepare/cook the soup.
Makes 8 servings.

In a deep soup pot; heat oil. Add garlic, ginger and scallions; saute until aromatics have a bit of color. Add vegetables (zucchini, carrots, mushrooms, broccoli, lemongrass and chili pepper (if using) and sprinkle with sea salt. Saute to soften slightly; about 3 minutes.     IMG_2238 IMG_2239
(Bottled lemongrass; found in the Asian section of Whole Foods)

Create some space in the pot; add chicken and quickly saute; don’t worry about cooking thoroughly; it will cook in the soup. Add chicken broth and coconut milk; bringing soup to a boil for 2-3 minutes; then reducing to a simmer. Add lime zest, lime juice and cilantro. Simmer for 1-15 minutes. Taste; add sea salt and Sriracha as needed.  Makes 8 cups.

IMG_2242 #dontleavethenest #unlessyoumakesoup

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Thick and Rich Mushroom & Chicken Soup

IMG_2123 Deep Freeze 2015! As we settle into another below-freezing week here in the ‘Natti, it’s time to make some soup.

And while I love soup; I particularly love soup as a meal. This riff on a Hungarian Mushroom Soup is full of fragrant onions, savory mushrooms, big bites of gently sautéed chicken and deliciously carby pasta. Proteins, Carbs, Vegetables, Umami favor;  this soup has it all. One pot, one bowl, one gigantic glass of wine; and dinner is served.

Thick and Rich Chicken & Mushroom Soup
Servings: 8-10 (1-cup servings) Time: 1 hour

1 tbs butter (I implore you, Kerrygold is fantastic)
3 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 (8 oz) container button mushrooms, cleaned and diced
1/4 c. wine (red or white) or chicken broth
2 tbs flour
1/2 lb  chicken (about 2 breasts or 3 boneless thighs), cleaned and diced
1 oz (about 6 or 7) dried wild mushrooms, broken up & reconstituted, reserve broth
6 c. chicken broth
2 heaping tbs dried dill (or 1/4c. fresh dill, minced)
4 oz small shaped pasta (or long pasta broken into 1″ bits)
1/2c. half & half
1 tsp smoked paprika
dash of cayenne pepper (optional)
Sea salt & pepper to taste

In a large deep stockpot, melt butter. Add garlic, onion and button mushrooms and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Once vegetables have some color and are starting to stick (about 5 minutes), deglaze the pan with wine or chicken stock. Creating space in the center of the pan, add chicken. allow to cook on one side, flip over. Don’t worry about cooking it 100%; it will continue to cook in the soup.

Once vegetables and chicken are starting to stick, sprinkle with flour. Toss to coat vegetables and chicken. Add wild mushrooms and mushroom liquid, stirring to combine well. Add chicken broth and bring soup to a boil then reduce to a simmer. Add dill and pasta and allow to simmer for 20-30 minutes. Slowly stir in half and half (so it doesn’t curdle; if it does, it’s completely edible, just not as pretty). Sprinkle in paprika and cayenne if using, allow to simmer for 10 minutes.  Taste here. Add salt & pepper to taste. This needs nothing for serving; but a little freshly shaved Parmesan or aged Gouda would put it over the top. Makes 8 cups.

Re-heating tip: As with any pasta-based soup, add a little chicken broth when re-heating to loosen up the soup again.

IMG_2132This soup came together in no time at all; but will fill your house with the most amazing aroma that will have you hanging around the kitchen drinking wine, waiting for it to be done.

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A Catch Up Dinner

I hadn’t seen my friend Meredith since before the holidays.
That was way too long to go without gossiping catching up.

After several unsuccessful attempts to plan a weekend brunch, we finally decided on a Tuesday night dinner. After discussing locales and times (dang, we are busy); I finally suggested throwing on cozy clothes and coming to my house where I’d cook. My house don’t care if you hang out in your PJs until all hours. Plus #nonstopwine.

So, here it is; a light dinner for a girls catch-up!
Vegetable & Avocado Dip with Crudite
Mixed Greens with Shaved Carrots & Beets
Chicken & Zucchini Gratin
Coconut & White Chocolate Blondies

Avocado & Vegetable Dip with Crudite
Mix 8oz non-fat, plain Greek yogurt with one very ripe (peeled & pitted) avocado until smooth. Stir in 1/2 packet of Knorr Vegetable Dip mix. Add dill and black pepper to taste. Serve with Crudite or Homemade Pita Chips.  Serves 4.

Mixed Greens with Shaved Carrot & Beet
Toss 5oz of mixed baby greens with 1/2c. unsalted pumpkin seeds. Using a cheese grater, shave one peeled carrot and one peeled beet into the greens. Season with salt, pepper and a dash of olive oil. Optional: Lemon Avocado Salad Dressing. Serves 4.

Chicken & Zucchini Gratin
A lightened up gratin made with non-dairy milk. I also added brown rice to make this more of an entrée. It could be considered a (gulp) casserole.

3 tbs butter (plus more for topping)
1 garlic clove, peeled and diced
1 large yellow onion, peeled and diced
1 large zucchini (or 2 medium), peeled and diced
1.5 c. cooked brown rice
2 c. cooked chicken, diced (I used light and dark meat from a roasted chicken)
1/4 c. whole wheat pastry flour (or AP flour)
3 c. milk (dairy or non-dairy; rice or almond)
pinch nutmeg
pinch cayenne pepper
3/4 c. grated Gruyère cheese
Sea Salt, Black Pepper
3/4 c. Panko Bread Crumbs (I mixed Panko with Almond Meal for a little more flavor)

Pre-heat oven to 350. Spray a 11×9 dish (or four individual ramekins) with cooking spray.
In a large, deep saucepan, melt 1 tbs butter. Saute garlic, onion and zucchini until tender; but not mushy. Spoon vegetables into a large bowl. Add rice and chicken, stir together. Set aside.

Without wiping out the saucepan, melt remaining 2 tbs butter. Whisk flour in briskly to create a roux. Slowly add milk, still whisking, so that the flour is completely incorporated. Add nutmeg and cayenne. Allow white sauce to heat and thicken (but not boil). When you see small bubbles form around edges, lower heat, and slowly stir in cheese until smooth. Taste here; add salt and pepper as needed.

Adding a spoonful at a time, add 3/4 of the sauce to the Chicken/Veg/Rice mix, stirring to blend. Transfer mix to greased dish(es). Pour remaining sauce over the mix. Sprinkle on Panko/Almond crumbs. You can dot butter over the top or leave as-is. Bake for 20-30 minutes until sauce is bubbly and Panko has browned. Serves 4.

The White Chocolate & Coconut blondies were simply this divine recipe with coconut swapped out for the almonds. Drool.

A light and lovely dinner for a girls catch up. And you know #nonstopwine.

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A Look In the Cart

Time for my favorite voyeuristic posts; A Look in the Cart! I love seeing what people buy at the grocery store, keep in their fridge, hide in their medicine cabinets…kidding. Sort of.

This past weekend, I visited our (newly opened) Fresh Thyme here in Cincinnati.
Fresh Thyme boasts itself as ” spirit of a weekend farmers market, and the convenience of a neighborhood store.”  They provide natural meats, organic and conventional vegetables as well as all kinds of fun packaged goods (lots of options for gluten-free, dairy-free etc.), freshly ground coffee, local honey and a HUGE bulk bin section. I’m a sucker for a bulk bins.

To the cart!
2 huge bunches of broccoli
1 tub organic baby spring mix
1 bag washed/cut kale
2 Zucchini
Fresh ginger
3 avocados (.88 cent each!)

A whole 3lb chicken for $4.91!
Brown rice noodles (my favorite)
Rice dream milk
Shiitake mushrooms
A big bag of nooch from the bulk bin
Green curry paste
Sunflower seed butter

The above groceries came to $43.71; I purchased meat, organic and conventional vegetables, and several specialty items. Fresh Thyme has an emphasis on affordable prices, and on this visit (and visits in the past) I’ve definitely found that to be true.

All fueled up with some beautiful foods for the week. How about you, buy anything interesting this week? Have a favorite grocery store?

This post was not sponsored in any way, I just like talking about places I like!

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10 On-The-Go Breakfasts. For Real.

Over the holidays, my sister and I were talking about breakfast (and haircuts and teeth whitening and a myriad of other things); but definitely breakfast. We were discussing how there are tons of great healthy “On the Go” breakfast ideas out there especially in the beginning of the year..but seriously, if I have to get out a chopping board, blender or a teaspoon (to measure the oil for my chopped vegetable omelet and chopped fruit smoothie) then that ain’t ON THE GO.

So we started discussing actual On The Go Breakfasts. The criteria were simple:
– Take 5 minutes or less
– Do not require more than 5 ingredients
– Do not require gadgets (see blender, teaspoons, waffle irons, etc).

So with this in mind, I present…..

10 On the Go Breakfasts. For Real.

Notes: You can speed up time even more with things like pre-portioned (or pre-sliced) almonds, nut butter, yogurt & cheese. More expensive than portioning at home; but you pay for convenience. A few items are noted as “LNL” meaning from Last Night’s Leftovers. A great way to use up dinner items in the am! You’ll see I like to use whole wheat pita here (ease of eating one-handed); but most of the other dishes can easily be carried or put into a Tupperware to be eaten at your desk.

Nuts, Cheese & Fruit

1 whole portable fruit (apple, orange, peach, plum, apricot, )
1 handful whole almonds (using the palm of your hand as a guide; not your football player roomie’s hand)
1 wedge of cheese (Laughing Cow or a wedge of your favorite cheese)
Pretty darn simple; but you hit all the nutritional high points (protein, fat and vitamins) and its delicious.

LNL: Chicken & Apricot Sandwich

1 leftover plain or seasoned chicken breast (or sliced deli chicken)
5 dried apricots
1/2 small whole wheat pita or small whole wheat tortilla
Honey or Honey mustard
Shred chicken breast (no chopping board!), add to pita along with  apricots. Drizzle on honey or honey mustard.

Dill Cottage Cheese & Crackers
1 scoop of Non-fat cottage cheese
Sprinkle each of Salt/Pepper/dried Dill Weed
8 whole wheat Melba Toasts for scooping
1 whole portable fruit
Season cottage cheese, scoop with crackers. Fruit on the side.

Egg Over SUPER Easy
Spritz of cooking spray
1 egg
1/2 small whole wheat pita or small whole wheat tortilla
1 wedge of cheese
1 whole fruit
Heat a small frying pan over medium heat. Spritz with cooking spray. Cook egg on one side until white is opaque (2 minutes). Flip over and cook another 20 seconds (yolk will be runny. Add to pita with cheese.
Fruit on the side.

Fluffy Eggs & Spinach
Spritz of cooking spray
2 eggs
handful baby spinach
1/2 small whole wheat pita or small whole wheat tortilla
1 whole fruit
Spritz a microwave-safe bowl with cooking spray. Add eggs, whisk briskly with a fork, season with salt and pepper.
Cook in the microwave for 2 minutes or until cooked through. Stuff spinach into pita add egg (the heat from the eggs will wilt the spinach).
Fruit on the side.

Old Faithful
Honestly, you can’t go wrong with any combination of oatmeal or whole-grain cereal, fruit and nut butter (and/or milk if that’s your thing). It’s a quick classic for a reason. 

Yogurt, Fruit & Flax Bowl
1 scoop of yogurt
small palmful of raisins or about 5 dried apricots
1 spoonful of Flaxmeal
drizzle of honey
Sprinkle yogurt with fruit, flax and honey.

LNL: Brown Rice Cereal

1 scoop leftover plain steamed brown rice
1 handful of whole almonds
1 dash cinnamon
Enough milk to almost cover rice
In a microwave bowl, mix rice, cinnamon and milk. Heat for 1.5 minutes until warmed through. Stir, add nuts.

NB & F
1/2 whole wheat pita
spoonful of nut butter
5 no-sugar-added apple or banana chips (or you can slice up fruit, but that violates the no-cutting board rule…)
sprinkle of cinnamon
I think you know how to put this one together

Fig & Ricotta Toasts
2 Whole Wheat or Rye Crackers (like Wasa)
2 spoonfuls non-fat ricotta
2 dried figs (or 4 dried apricots)
Drizzle of honey
Simply spread ricotta on crackers, add dried fruit and drizzle with honey (also great on whole wheat toast)


Now get moving, you’re late for work.

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Something Sporty is Happening. Get Snacks.

Word on the street is that there is something sporty happening this weekend.
While I applaud others’ interests and amusements, watching a ball get tossed around has never been my thing (unless accompanied by game day tickets and beers. I have my (ridiculous) standards).

What IS my thing are the snacks consumed during the sporty thing. I’ve dug into the recipe page and pulled out some big game favorites for your viewing pleasure. Some small bites, some robust salads and a few party-friendly mains. Plus allthemacaroniandcheese. What’s your game day specialty?

Beer Bread with Apple Bourbon Cheddar Cheese Spread
Rosemary Lemon Chex Mix
Bacon Jalapeno Cheeseball
Mini Artichoke Bread Bowls
Vegetable Stuffed Nachos
Goat Cheese & Bacon Stuffed Mushrooms
Greek Cous Cous Salad
Cobb Pasta Salad
Tortellini Pesto Artichoke Salad
Antipasto platter

Jambalaya and Fall-off-the-bone Chicken
Thai Pork Quesadillas
Fish Taco Bar
Chicken & Mushroom Mac & Cheese
Rosemary Pancetta Mac & Cheese

Fish Tacos                                                                    Vegetable Stuffed Nachos

Bacon, Jalapeno Cheeseball                             Chicken & Mushroom Macaroni & Cheese

Happy sporting.

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Sunday Supper: Creamy Lemon Spaghetti

IMG_1621I have the easiest dinner for you to make today.
Literally, you probably have all the ingredients in your kitchen right this minute.

We’re making a carbonara of sorts; in that we’re using a gorgeous egg to create a creamy sauce; but we’re keeping this vegetarian with just lemon and parsley. Its bright, fresh and lovely. Pour a glass of bubbles and whip this up tonight.

Creamy Lemon Spaghetti
4 oz spaghetti (linguine, etc.)
2 tbs butter (I prefer Kerrygold unsalted)
1 organic egg
2 tbs lemon zest
1/2 c. fresh parsley, stems removed, roughly chopped
Sea Salt, Black Pepper
Because this is so simple, I recommend using the best ingredients you can find.

In a medium pot, cook pasta according to package instructions. When the pasta is just about al dente; drain reserving about 1-2 tbs pasta water. Return pasta and water back to the pot.

Turn the heat underneath the pasta to low and add the butter. Stir the pasta and butter together until strands are coated. While pasta is still hot, remove pot from heat. Working quickly, crack egg directly into the pot. Break yolk and stir the egg into the pasta, keep stirring so that the pasta is coated, but the eggs doesn’t cook separately (aka scrambled eggs). This step should only take 30-60 seconds.  Once the egg is no longer glistening, its cooked.

Add lemon zest and parsley. Stir until the zest is incorporated and the parsley has wilted a bit. Add salt and pepper to taste. Plate and serve immediately. Serves 2.
I find this rich enough on its own; but you could serve with Parmesan for passing.
For the carnivores in your life, add thinly sliced skirt steak over the top.     IMG_1624  IMG_1626
Get your face into this.

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