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January 15, 2018

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN RICE VERMICELLI SOUP

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This Slow Cooker Chicken Rice Vermicelli Soup might look simple, but it is comforting and packed with flavor. It's the perfect soup to warm your body and feed your soul during the wintery cold and flu season. 

SLOW COOKER CHICKEN RICE VERMICELLI SOUP
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Don't you hate it when you order chicken soup and there's hardly any chicken in it? Remember that commercial years and years ago with the slogan "Where's the beef?" Well, that's what I feel like saying sometimes when I order chicken soup, only it's "Where's the chicken?" That's not happening with this soup! It is jam packed with chicken and good lean protein. And it's so easy to make.


Since this is a slow cooker meal, I can set it and forget it for a few hours while I go about my business. This soup cooks on low for 4 to 6 hours. The chicken breast is added to chicken stock that is seasoned with scallion, garlic, ginger, star anise, salt, sesame oil, and fish sauce. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, rice vermicelli (and more scallion) is added to the stock while the chicken is shredded and returned to the slow cooker. And it's ready to enjoy! It is fantastic served with a good squeeze of fresh lime juice which adds so much brightness. Don't leave it out. I highly recommend it!






This is a low maintenance, budget friendly, and healthy meal. It is nourishing, comforting, and perfect for cold winter days. (And it's gluten free too!) Since people at work are dropping like flies from colds and flu, I'm keeping a supply of this in the freezer as an emergency stash to nurse me back to health in case my number comes up. I'm keeping my fingers crossed that I won't need to dig into the freezer stash!




SLOW COOKER CHICKEN RICE
VERMICELLI SOUP     

Slow Cooker Chicken Rice Vermicelli Soup


INGREDIENTS:


6 cups chicken stock
3 star anise
1/3 cup chopped scallion stems (whites)
1 1/2 tbsp. minced ginger
1 tbsp. minced garlic
1/4 tsp. white pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. sugar
1 tbsp. sesame oil
4 tsp. fish sauce
12 oz. skinless boneless chicken breast
1/3 cup chopped scallion greens
4 oz. rice vermicelli
1 lime, quartered


INSTRUCTIONS:

Pour chicken stock into a 2.5 quart slow cooker. Use a piece of cheesecloth to create a pouch for the star anise. Knot the opening closed. Place in slow cooker. Add scallion stems, ginger, garlic, pepper, salt, sugar, sesame oil, and fish sauce. Stir to blend. Add chicken. Cook on low for 4-6 hours.

When chicken is cooked through, transfer to a plate. Add scallion greens and rice vermicelli to the stock. Use two forks to shred chicken. Return to the slow cooker. Continue cooking until vermicelli is tender (about 10 minutes total cooking time). Serve with a squeeze of lime juice.

Makes 4 starter or 2 main servings.



Recipe Notes:

  1. Using a cheesecloth pouch prevents star anise fragments from break loose into the soup. As an alternative to a cheesecloth, use a tea ball infuser to contain the star anise.
  2. Recipe can easily be doubled using a larger slow cooker.








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January 03, 2018

MOLDED SHRIMP SALAD

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Some things need to be brought back from the past like this retro Molded Shrimp Salad. Served with crackers, it is a fantastic appetizer that disappears quickly.

Molded Shrimp Salad
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Happy New Year!! I hope you had a great start to 2018! Did you do anything fun and exciting New Year's Eve?

My husband and I quietly celebrated the occasion by watching a couple movies. And since the temperature hovered around zero degrees Fahrenheit, I was all too happy to usher in the new year in the warmth of my own home. 


For the first recipe of 2018, I'm brining retro back in the form of a savory molded salad. Also known as jellied, Jell-O, or congealed salad, this type of dish peaked in popularity in the 1950s and through the 1960s. They made regular appearances in American homes as well as at social gatherings and potlucks. Composed of a flavored gelatin base with added fruits, vegetables, or an array of other ingredients, it had tremendous versatility. Another part of its appeal is the ease of preparation and affordability as canned items and leftovers were commonly used. 

Molded Shrimp Salad

A co-worker shared this recipe with me many, many moons ago. I loved it from the very first bite. The smoothness from cream cheese and mayonnaise, the slight tang from condensed tomato soup and cream cheese, the crunch from celery, and the zest from red onion work in conjunction with the tender shrimp to hook you right in.

Molded Shrimp Salad

Although the original recipe was delicious, I made a couple of changes to suit my personal taste.  The recipe called for chopped green pepper (they don't like me), which I replaced with scallion. If you prefer green peppers, by all means, add them back! It also specified two (4.5 oz) cans of shrimp, drained. With a unit price at $11.96 per pound, canned shrimp is not the most economical choice. For a more budget friendly option, I buy either cooked frozen 71/90 count shrimp or defrosted ones from the seafood counter (you need only 8 oz. for this recipe). Ranging from $6.99 to $7.99 per pound, these options are much more economical than the canned counterpart. Of course, prices may vary by season and region, so do some comparative shopping where you are and make your own decision.




What do you say? Want to help me bring retro back? Say yes and start with this shrimp salad! It will be a great addition to any entertaining menu.

Molded Shrimp Salad





 MOLDED SHRIMP SALAD    

Molded Shrimp Salad


INGREDIENTS:


1 envelope unflavored gelatin
1/2 cup cold water
1 (10 3/4 oz.) can condensed tomato soup
8 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
1 cup mayonnaise
8 oz. cooked shrimp, coarsely chopped
1/2 cup chopped celery
1/3 cup chopped red onion
1/3 cup chopped scallion
1/4 cup drained sweet relish



INSTRUCITONS:

In a small bowl, combine gelatin in water. Let stand for 5 minutes. Bring tomato soup to a boil in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir in gelatin mixture to dissolve. Remove from heat.

Beat cream cheese smooth. Gradually a beat in soup mixture until smooth. Stir in mayonnaise. Chill until partially set (the consistency of unbeaten egg whites) about 40 minutes.

Fold in  shrimp, celery, red onion, scallion, and relish. Coat a 6-cup capacity bundt pan with cooking spray. Pour in shrimp salad mixture. Chill for 6 to 8 hours.

To unmold, place bundt pan in warm water for 15-20 seconds. Remove from water. Place a plate over the pan. Holding the plate in place, invert the bundt pan, giving it a gentle shake to help shrimp mold release onto the plate. Serve with crackers.

Makes 8-10 servings.







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December 20, 2017

QUICK RISE CINNAMON SUGAR FOCACCIA

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Quick Rise Cinnamon Sugar Focaccia is a sweet twist on the traditionally savory bread. Rapid rise yeast and stand mixer kneading makes this yeast bread quick and easy to prepare, about one hour is all it takes.

QUICK RISE CINNAMON SUGAR FOCACCIA

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Until a visit to Eataly, an Italian marketplace in New York City in the summer of 2014, I had never seen a sweet focaccia. My eyes were drawn to a cinnamon sugar topped focaccia in a display case and knew immediately that it had to be featured on the blog one day. This post was originally published in January 2015. Since then, I have tweaked the recipe ever so slightly to make a yummy bread even yummier.  I have also added more detailed instructions to the recipe card. 

Below is the original post with new photos and the aforementioned updates. 

Enjoy everyone!

December 14, 2017

ROSEMARY GARLIC WINGS

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These 5-ingredient Rosemary Garlic Wings perfume the kitchen with an intoxicating aroma as they bake. They are easy to make and can easily be doubled...and you will want to!

Rosemary Garlic Wings
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It has been a blustery winter day here in my little corner of the Northeast. It was also garbage day, so when I came home from running errands, there was an obstacle course in the form of garbage barrels strewn in the middle of the street. To my dismay, it consisted entirely of my barrels and those of my friends next door. I was slightly annoyed that all of the others on the street were docked at a respectable distance from the curb.