Sweet Potato Kale Chicken Soup

This is a recipe I made tonight after seeing some prepared soup at the store and being disappointed that they were almost out. Also that one small container would be six dollars was a deterrent to my shopping savvy. Now, that cost isn’t much, but to feed five, it’s not a terrific quantity. I quickly turned to the produce section and selected a bunch of fresh Kale, 2 Sweet Potatoes, an onion, and a small package of boneless chicken and went to the cashier determined to try my own hand at something new. About five dollars later, a loaf of garlic bread also somehow made it with me, so an extra $1.50 was spent, we were on our way home.

Here is what I made, and it turned out excellently. If you try to make it, let me know how it turns out for you.

Sweet Potato Kale Chicken Soup

Ingredients:

1 lb. Boneless Skinless Chicken Breast or tenders, diced into small chunks

2 large Sweet Potatoes, peeled and diced into 1/4” sized cubes

1/2 Yellow Onion, diced

2-3 cups chopped Kale

1-2 T Olive Oil

4 Cloves of Garlic, crushed

1/2 tsp Nutmeg

1/8 tsp Ground Cloves

1 T Dried Basil

2 T Sugar

pepper

salt to taste

2 T Chicken Bullion (alternately use 2 cans chicken broth and decrease the water)

2 liters water

pinch of Turmeric (optional for color)

(Optional: 1 12 oz package of tortellini or other pasta)

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Instructions:

In a large Soup pot over medium heat, put oil, onions, chicken, and sweet potatoes. Sauté about 15 minutes or until chicken is cooked. Add in Garlic cloves and stir.

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Next mix in the nutmeg, cloves, basil, sugar, pepper, and chicken bullion. Stir and then add the Kale to the pot. Cover with Water and stir. Add the pinch of turmeric. Allow the mixture to come to a gentle boil, turn heat to low and simmer for anther 15 minutes.

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Meanwhile, in a separate pot boil water for the pasta or tortellini. Cook until done according to package directions. This will be kept separate until the soup is served.

When serving, first scoop a portion of the pasta into the bowl and then top with the soup.

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Note: I was able to make a full pot of this soup for about $5, given that the seasonings were already on hand. It’s a great, 30 minute meal for low cost that I know is a healthy recipe for my family. They all loved it and licked their bowls clean. Plan a little extra time for cutting up and washing the vegetables. Excellent with a slice of Italian bread or crusty roll.

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Not exactly baking

Homemde English Muffins Recipe  
In fairness to anyone who follows me on Instagram, I figured I should share my recipe for Homemade English Muffins. Of course, there are plenty online, and I won’t guarantee  that my recipe is different from any other one might find, it might not be the one with the most “nooks and crannies”, or the healthiest, but it is my own adapted recipe with the main point being that it is simple. It isn’t quite baking because they are actually made on a griddle and not in the over. This makes them an excellent bread recipe for the warmer seasons when one doesn’t want their oven on. 

Having the right tools makes this easier, and will enable one to follow this recipe exactly. It can be made without a stand mixer, but it will then loose the simple ease this recipe provides. 

Tools:  a stand mixer (at least a 325 watt or similar to Kitchen Aid brand variety that has a 5qt bowl)

A good flat clean surface, rolling pin

A circle cutter, about 3″ diameter or a large mug/glass will do

And a large completely flat pan or griddle. Can be cast iron, regular skillet, or it can be the electric kind you plug in (like for pancake making). I prefer now the electric griddle, it maintains temperature the best. 

Ingredients:

5 cups of flour (loosely measured) and a little more if needed. 

2 TBSP active dry yeast, or 2 packets

1 TBSP Sugar

1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups milk

1/2 cup water

1 TBSP butter

Cornmeal for dusting

Oil for brushing onto skillet 

Directions:

Using your stand mixture bowl, mix flour, yeast, sugar, and baking soda.

In a microwave safe bowl, put milk, water, and butter, heat until it feels warm to touch (about 2-3 minutes from fridge temp). 

Add liquid to the dry ingredients. Begin with a paddle style mixing wand. Once it is sticking together, switch to a dough-hook and continue to mix for 2-3 minutes. This is the kneading process. 

Dough should be somewhat elastic (meaning when you lift it and it stretches, it bounces back to shape). It should not be hard or too sticky, slightly sticky is good. Remove dough from bowl and brush same bowl with oil, cover with a piece of oiled plastic wrap. Let sit in a warm place for 20-30 minutes. 

Meanwhile, get a clean surface ready, a round cutter, cornmeal, oil for brushing the griddle, and rolling pin ready. 

Heat griddle to 300 degrees for electric type, for a pan on the stovetop, heat to medium heat. Brush with a little oil. 

When dough has risen, without working it place about half onto a lightly floured surface. Roll dough to about 1/2″ thick. Cut with circle cutter, pat softly into cornmeal and place on griddle. 

Cook for 7 minutes on one side, flip and cook 7 more minutes on other side. Cooking can be aided by placing a sheet of parchment paper over the batch while cooking to allow some heat to stay in. 

While first batch is cooking, continue to cut and pat in cornmeal the remaining dough. 

  
Allow to cool briefly before cutting in half with a sharp serrated knife. 

Serve warm or you can spilt and toast them. Make sure they are cool before storing in a container or ziplock bag. Iif you will not be eating them all in 2 days be sure to refrigerate them. Make sure to allow some breathing room in the container until they have reached a cool temperature. 
One final note, I showed my mom how to make this recipe, she never makes bread, but this was so easy for her also, so even if you can’t make a loaf of bread, give this one a try!

Recipe: Orange Ginger Beef

It has been sometime since I’ve posted a new recipe. Over the past two weeks I’ve made this dish a few times and thought it is worth sharing. We’ve all tried to make stir-fry at home and found it a little dry, or at least I have many times. So, I’ve been working on a solution for it to taste more like restaurant Chinese food, and this one works pretty well. We have (kids included) loved it and I hope you will too.

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Orange Ginger Beef

1-2 teaspoons oil
1 pound tender beef, cubed into 1/4″ pieces
2-4 tablespoons soy sauce
1 teaspoon orange extract
Juice of half a lime
1/4 cup cornstarch
1 teaspoon ginger (ground)
3 tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon of cumin
Black pepper to taste
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon onion powder
2-3 cups water
One medium bag of stir-fry frozen vegetables

Cooked rice or noodles to serve.
Crushed red pepper flakes and additional soy sauce.

Heat oil in large Skillet. Add the beef, then add the cornstarch and stir well. Next add in all seasonings, sauce and lime juice. Sauté until the meat is done, then add in the frozen vegetables and continue to stir.
Lastly add the water into the pan and stir gently allowing it to mix with all of the other ingredients.
Simmer for another five minutes and allow the liquid to thicken. Add more soy sauce to taste if needed.
Sprinkle with a few crushed red pepper flakes before serving if desired. Enjoy!

Tempura and General Tso

Tonight we had some Vegetable Tempura and General Tso Chicken.
It is a lot easier to make than I thought it would be. These recipes are tried and true, as I’ve made this many times before. I usually buy pre-made sauces to dip the tempura in, so those choices are up to everyone’s own taste.

Here is the recipe for General Tso Chicken:

2-3 chicken breast, cut into small chunks
2 tbsp soy sauce
Pepper (a few shakes)
1/2-1 cup flour or cornstarch
Oil for frying- enough to put about 1/2″ deep in a skillet.

Put chicken in a large bowl. Mix in soy sauce and pepper. Toss in the flour (or cornstarch) until all pieces are evenly coated. Heat oil in skillet, fry each piece about 2 minutes each side or until chicken is done. Remove and let drain. Don’t crowd the pan or it won’t form a crispy shell on chicken.

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In a separate bowl:
1/3 cup of soy sauce
2 tsp Ginger
2 tsp garlic
1 Tbsp vinegar
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp basil
1/2 tsp onion powder
Black pepper to taste
2 tbsp flour (or cornstarch)
1 cup water
Crushed red pepper to taste (if this is not added it will be a little more like a sweet ad sour sauce).

Mix above ingredients with a whisk and set aside.

-dice about 1/2 cup red and green bell peppers, and 1/4 cup onions and sauté in a larger skillet.
Add in sauce mixture. Bring to a light simmer. Stir in chicken. Cook over low heat for another few minutes. If the sauce is evaporating a little more water may be added.

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For the Tempura:
1-2 large carrots
1 onion
1 Zucchini
1 red bell pepper
1 green bell pepper
1 yellow bell pepper
(optional: mushrooms)
2 cups “Tempura fry mix” in Mongolia it’s in a Korean labeled package. I don’t understand it, but it’s got a picture of fried vegetables on it. I add about 1 cup of water to the mix.
-alternate recipe:
1 1/2 cups cornstarch
1 egg
1+ cup of water
Salt and pepper
oil for frying

Slice up all vegetables into strips.

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Mix the batter ingredients together. Heat oil about 2 inches deep in a deep pan or wok. Gently mix a small handful of vegetables into the batter mixture.

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When the oil is hot, place a few of the vegetables into the pan, keeping them a little apart from one another

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Fry for 1-2 minutes until lightly golden.
Serve with favorite sauces and rice.

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Mexican food, it’s ‘home’ cooking

Two nights in a row this week we had Mexican food. In the past when making tostadas or tacos, I’ve said if I had to pick a food to be my last meal that it would be it.
I wouldn’t mind having it every night of the week. The flavors are perfect. It is a perfect combination of meats, flour or corn tortillas, and veggies, along with cheese and spicy. This week was special because we found fresh avocado at a store here. A rare find. Of course they cost almost as much as a meal out for two- but it was totally worth it.
Since living in California as a child and then Arizona and New Mexico, tacos have been one of my most favorite foods. It wasn’t until I married Servy that I really got the hang of making it with a great combination of flavors and no “taco seasoning” packets.

So, here is my recipe for Chicken Taco meat. It is great in a burrito, in a taco, or on a tostada, also great on nachos.

Ingredients:
2-3 boneless Chicken breast (sliced thinly and into bite sized pieces)
1/2 medium yellow onion, diced
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp dried cilantro (if using fresh, I use very little as it has a strong flavor)
1 tsp ground cumin
2 cloves of garlic, crushed (or 1 Tbsp garlic powder)
1 tsp black pepper
Juice of 1 lime or lemon
Salt (to desired taste)
2 tsp dried oregano leaves
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
1 tsp parsley flakes

Heat oil in a skillet
Add in pepper, onion and chicken.
Add in all dry spices. Stirring frequently

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Sauté for about 10 minutes or until the meat is cooked through, add in the lemon juice and stir well.
At this point I usually taste and see if it is just how I like it. Usually the things lacking are more pepper or lemon juice.

Serve in or on tortillas or tostadas.
The typical toppings at the Pardo house are lettuce, tomato, sour cream, salsa, cheddar cheese, and more lime or lemon juice. If it’s a burrito I just add some cooked potato and wrap it all up. Guacamole is also pretty standard when we are State side, we were pretty thrilled to have it this week.
More recipes along the Mexican food line will certainly follow. We had it this week with Fideo, but Mexican Rice and beans are also common in our house.

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Sauce and writing again

So, I have made minor attempts at blogging on my own with not to much commitment to it. This time around, I’ll try to be consistent. At least as consistent as a wife, mother, and homemaker can be. Mainly this will be about my cooking endeavors. Which I currently have quite a few as I am living where I cannot go to the store and buy pre-made foods. Another reason I’ve been contemplating writing about cooking is because of a good piece of advice my husband, Servy, gave me. He said something like, “if you added patience, your cooking would go from being awesome to being over the top.” Now I know he is honest, because he has been eating, and enjoying, my cooking for 7+ years.

I’m going to start off with something simple. Homemade Spaghetti Sauce. Some call it Bolognese, because it has meat, we will stick with my simplified, non-gourmet names.
I love this recipe because it doesn’t need to simmer for hours to have a great flavor. I also love the smell of the garlic and onion sautéing. On a side note- the beef in Mongolia doesn’t always taste the way I would expect beef to taste, but this recipe always mutes whatever the odd flavor is to make a delicious meal that we all enjoy.

Meat Sauce-

1 tbsp oil
3 Garlic Cloves- don’t skimp and use dried- crushed
1 small white or yellow onion- diced
1 stalk of celery – diced
1 lb lean ground beef
1 tbsp dried Oregano
2 tsp dried Basil
1 tbsp salt
2-3 tsp black pepper
1 tbsp dried parsley
1 large (14oz) can tomato paste
1 can (14oz) crushed or chopped tomato
1 can (fill up tomato paste can) water
2 tsp sugar
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 splash of Worcestershire sauce
1/2-1 tsp ground nutmeg
More salt to taste.

In a saucepan heat oil over medium heat. add garlic, onion and celery and lightly brown.
Add in beef, and dried herbs. Sauté until lightly browned.

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Add in cans of tomato and 1 can of water.
Allow to simmer a few minutes. Add in lemon, Worcestershire sauce, sugar and nutmeg.
Simmer another 15 minutes and serve over favorite pasta. Top with Parmesan if desired.

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Here are the types of canned tomatoes I use. Usually one is a crushed or whole tomato in it’s own juice. The other is a can- or two smaller cans- of tomato paste, the thick kind. I’m fortunate sometimes to find ones that seem Italian perhaps.

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