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CROCK POT WILD RICE CHICKEN SOUP

If you read my blog you will know that while I love the idea and convenience of a crock pot/slow cooker – in terms of success we have really had minimal results – just the odd recipe turns out great.  Usually, we find the dish is lacking in flavor, and any meat is over cooked.   This has happened time and time again, even with lots of experimentation on cooking times, added seasonings etc.  Never one to give up on a challenge in the kitchen – I keep trying.  My sister has had the same issue.  She is convinced that her crock pot dishes used to be wonderful back in the day when she used her “old school” crock pot which she no longer has.  She believes the newer crock pots cook too “hot” hence the loss of flavor/overcooked meat.  They say each crock pot is different – how true.

So, when seeing various recipes for crock pot Chicken Rice Soup, I was surprised to read a number of different comments on the challenges of making this simple soup in a crock pot.  What?  I’m not the only one out there that has challenges with a crock pot?  What do you know!

Some of these comments were:  the rice was crunchy, the rice was mushy, there was not enough liquid, the vegetables were not cooked through, chicken was dry/overcooked.  Some say to cook on low for 6 hours other recipes say cook on low for 8 hours.  Having considered the various ideas and challenges – here is what I came up with:

I paid close attention so it did not over cook – mine was done in 5 1/2 hrs…hmm, maybe my sister is right. Thankfully the soup was delicious, the rice and vegetables were nicely cooked and the chicken was lovely and tender.

Oh and by the way, normally in a recipe I would say use 2 large carrots – however – my carrots are organically grown from the farm down the road so they come in various shapes and sizes – hence the measured ingredients.  This carrot had me taking a 2nd look!  Check this out:  I thought I was seeing things.  :)   Is this hilarious or what?

RECIPE:

1 lb. organic chicken breast skin off, no bone, cut into 3/4 inch pieces

2 Tblsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil

1 generous cup of chopped carrots

1 level cup chopped celery

1/4 cup chopped celery leaves

2 large shallots, chopped

1 large leek, sliced in half, and cut into 1/2 inch pieces

2 1/2 tsp. ground sage

2 tsp. garlic powder

1 tsp. thyme

1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

1 Tblsp. Balsamic vinegar

1/2 cup wild rice blend (soak in cold water for 15 minutes before adding to the crock pot and drain well)

6 cups chicken stock (I used half homemade vegetable stock and half homemade chicken stock as that is what I had on hand)

Plug in your crock pot on low to start heating up and soak the rice.  To a large frying pan on low medium heat drizzle in the Extra Virgin Olive Oil.  Add the carrots, celery, shallots, leeks and saute about 8 minutes.  Transfer to a large (6 quart) crock pot and cover with the stock, seasonings, chicken pieces, celery leaves, the drained rice, and balsamic vinegar, stirring to combine.  Cook on low heat for 5 1/2 hrs.  Check for seasonings and adjust to taste.  Serve hot with some nice gluten free bread.  This is a soup that I will definitely be making again – so easy too.

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GREEK BAKED ZITI

While this recipe was a bit time consuming to make – it was worth the effort.  It has been non stop raining in our area which always makes me want comfort food – with a roaring fire in the fire place blazing away to bring in some added warmth and coziness to our dreary damp day.  Plus there will be leftovers for tomorrow – yummm, plus we are thinking this might even be better tasting than home made lasagna it was that good!

Having never seen Gluten Free Ziti Pasta I used Tinkyada Penne Pasta in this recipe which worked fine.  Although the package says to cook for 13-14 minutes, mine were done in about 10 minutes so check for doneness at the 10 min. mark.

BEEF TOMATO SAUCE:

1 1/2 lbs. extra lean ground beef

1 large onion, chopped

5 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1/4 cup diced green pepper

2   398 ml. cans of tomato sauce

1 – 2 tsp. fresh lemon juice – check for taste

1 Tblsp. Greek Oregano – or regular is fine

2 tsp.  dried Basil or more to taste

2 tsp. dried garlic powder

salt and pepper to taste

1 pkg. gluten free Tinkyada penne pasta

FOR THE BECHAMEL SAUCE:

1 1/2 Tblsp. butter

1 shallot, minced

1 1/2 cup milk (we use 2 % lactose free)

2 1/2 Tblsp. sweet rice flour

good pinch of ground nutmeg

2 tsp. garlic powder

generous 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

grated aged cheddar cheese

1/2 cup finely grated feta cheese

Heat up a dutch oven on medium heat – add in the ground beef breaking up with a spoon.  Brown well, then drain off excess liquid.  Add in the onion, garlic, green pepper, and seasonings.  Turn the heat down to low – stirring occasionally for about 10 minutes.  Pour in the tomato sauce, lemon juice and stir well to combine.  Cook for 30 min. with a lid on cracked, then remove the lid and cook another 40 min. stirring occasionally.

While to sauce is cooking, heat up a medium sauce pan on low medium heat to melt the butter.  Add in the shallots, nutmeg, garlic powder, salt and pepper stirring about 5 minutes until the shallots are soft.  Sprinkle in the sweet rice flour whisking well about 2 minutes, then gradually pour in the milk, whisking well to remove any lumps.  Turn the heat up a bit continuing to whisk until sauce is thickened.  Remove from the heat and whisk in the Parmesan cheese.

Cook the pasta – drain well and add to the Bechamel Sauce stirring to combine thoroughly.  Lightly grease a 9×13 inch casserole dish with Extra Virgin Olive Oil and preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Add the pasta/bechamel sauce to the casserole dish then another sprinkling of Parmesan cheese to cover. Then top with the beef tomato sauce, and generously cover with the grated aged cheddar cheese.  Top evenly with the grated feta cheese.  Bake in the oven about 30-40 minutes until bubbly.  Remove from the oven and let rest 10 minutes before serving.  Serve with a nice salad or vegetable of choice.

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CREAMY TARRAGON SHRIMP AND LEEKS WITH LEMON RICE

When dining alone I always gravitate towards seafood – always.  DH is not a seafood lover at all – he will eat fish:  salmon, halibut, cod and snapper but that is about it. No shell fish what so ever.  I suppose I could cook more seafood than I do – but honestly I’m too lazy to cook 2 different meals.  So when it is a “single” nite it is wonderful to cook any kind of shell fish.

This was a quick and easy dish to make with lots of flavor.  This dish serves two – leftovers for tomorrow!

2 cups frozen cooked small shrimp – thawed and rinsed well then pat dry with paper towel

1 leek, cut in half and thinly sliced

3 minced garlic cloves

2 Tblsp. butter

2 tsp. fresh minced Tarragon (or 1 tsp. more if you like a strong tarragon flavor)

1 tsp. dried mustard

1 tsp. garlic powder

1 1/2 Tblsp. sweet rice flour

1 1/2 cups milk (we use 2 % lactose free)

1/2 cup grated Asiago cheese

1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese

salt and pepper to taste

Lemon Rice:

1/2 cup of basmati rice – rinsed

1 cup water

1 shallot, finely minced

3 tsp. fresh lemon juice

zest of 1/2 lemon

1 tblsp. butter

Heat up a saute pan on low/min. heat with the butter.  Add in the garlic, leeks and tarragon sauteing about 5 minutes until the leeks are soft.  Season well with fresh cracked pepper and salt, and add in the garlic powder.  Add the sweet rice flour – whisking into the leeks for about a minute.  Pour in the milk whisking well to remove any lumps.  Raise the heat a bit to bring to a very light simmer stirring well until it begins to thicken.  Add the cheeses stirring to melt.  Then turn down to minimum stirring occasionally.

To another pan on low medium heat add the butter, shallots and lemon zest.  Saute to sweat out about 5 min.  Add the rice and stir/saute for 2 more minutes.  Bring to a higher temperature and pour in 1 cup of water and fresh lemon juice bringing to a boil.  Stir with a fork, turn down to minimum lid on and cook 15 minutes or so until all the liquid is absorbed.

Four minutes before the rice is ready, add the shrimp to the leek tarragon sauce – stirring to heat through.  When rice is cooked, plate and cover with the Shrimp Leek Tarragon sauce.  Enjoy!

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ASPARAGUS BACON FRITTATA WITH A POTATO CRUST

We have had an abundance of fresh organic asparagus and fresh eggs – time to make a frittata – something we all love in this household, and yet something I tend to forget to make.  Not sure why that is, but this was a lovely reminder to make a frittata more frequently.

3 cups shredded yukon [...]

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LEFTOVER TURKEY PASTA

Recently we had a family reunion/gathering in our household.  We had cousins arrive from our homeland in Denmark…family we have never met before.  I fell in love with these far away cousins and it was an amazing, lovely, gathering of the clan.

Everyone brought something food wise to the table this day.  Our cousins brought Danish [...]

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GOOD, NUTRITIOUS, GLUTEN FREE FOOD

This is a post that finally came down to the result of a whole lot of frustration.  I would like to show case wonderful, delicious, food that is GLUTEN FREE.  Most of it, GLUTEN FREE NATURALLY.

There is so much negative hype/nastiness out there these days about Gluten Free this, Gluten Free that, Gluten Free being [...]

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LEFTOVER ROAST BEEF GINGER RICE STIRFRY

We had the most tender, flavorful sirloin tip roast beef the other day, with quite a bit leftover and this dish was a great way to use it up.  (plus a number of tasty sandwiches for lunch too)

If you do not have left over roast beef, using fresh beef strips would be delicious as would [...]

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CHICKEN SHNITZEL

For some reason we rarely ever see fresh Veal in our grocery stores, however, using chicken in this dish was wonderful.  This would also be lovely with boneless pork chops too.

This was such a quick easy meal to prepare – great for those busy days.  Just steam up some veggies, potatoes, toss together a salad, [...]

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GLUTEN FREE BLACK BEAN VEGETABLE ENCHILADAS

Years ago, there used to be a cafe/restaurant in town that served the most heavenly gluten free Mexican Pie.  We didn’t get to that part of town very often, but when we did this would be our lunch.  Basically, it was an Enchilada – but the corn tortillas were stacked on top of one another, [...]

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REPOSTED TOMATO RICE SOUP

This has to be one of my all time favorite soup recipes.  It was one of my first soup recipe posts from 2010 and one I make time and time again.

Back in the day….I am talking wayyy back in the day, as a teenager I loved the tomato rice soup that came in [...]