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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A Mongolian summer favorite…khuushuur

Something that Mongolians like to eat a lot is meat. Mostly sheep, cow and goat but also common meat here is camel and horse. A little background story on meat, when we first arrive here I went shopping with some friends, who knew the language more than I did. As I was at a butcher, I asked for a roast of beef. My friend translated, helped me order in kilos and I paid and walked away. As I walked away, my friend was stopped by the butcher and said something. They had given me horse meat. Having already paid and being worn out from the shopping already I decided to make the best of it and take it home. I made a slow cooked stew- and it actually ended up alright, but I have made sure to never again knowingly buy anything except beef. So, all that to say, meat is very important to the locals, both for livelihood and for eating. I read an article once that said livestock in Mongolia outnumber humans 15:1. It may have changed since then, but still meat is the staple food. After meat, is “white foods” which are a variety of curds, cheese, fermented curds and yogurt. Upon my observation I would say the next most important aspect of the diet is flour product. Whether it’s bread, noodles or used for wrapping meat in for cooking.
Now that some of you may have lost your appetite (which I hope you haven’t), let me preface my recipe by saying, it tastes good, my kids eat it, and it’s flavorful. Think “fried taco without the fixings” and you’ve almost got it.
I make my recipe for this a bit different than what would be found in this land, so if you were to make this recipe and then visit, it would probably look the same, but taste different. In the traditional writing it is written as хуушуур, which sounds like huushuur with a strong ‘kh’ at the beginning.

Ingredients:
1 lb Lean Ground Beef
1 TBSP Soy sauce
2 tsp Worcestershire Sauce
1 tsp lemon juice
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1 tsp black ground pepper
1 tsp dried parsley flakes

Mix the spices with the meat and set aside.

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Next, in a separate bowl mix
2 cups Flour
1/2-1 cup water
Dash of salt

Place flour in the bowl, Gradually add water and blend until all flour is incorporated. You want to make a soft dough that is pliable in your hands, but not sticky.
Then form the dough into a ball and roll into a long tube shape. Cut into about 15-16 smaller balls.

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Next begin heating a large pan with oil about 1-2 inches deep. Try to use a lighter oil like Soybean, Canola or vegetable oil.

On a flat clean surface begin rolling out each ball of dough into a very thin circle. If you start with the outside edges and roll out a little at a time it usually works well. Each circle should end up a little bigger than the palm of a hand.

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Next spoon a small amount of meat mixture into the dough. Don’t put too much or it won’t be able to close right.

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Fold in half to make a half circle and tightly pinch the edges to seal. You want to make a good seal so the meat will not seep out when cooking. You can use water on you fingers to help. I fold them over a little bit to create a good seal.
Place a few at a time in the hot oil. (Watch for splatters of hot oil as the meat cooks, make sure your kitchen is also well ventilated, those tips are from experience.)
Cook for 2-3 minutes on each side. (if it’s browning faster than that turn down the heat). Drain on paper towels.

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In our home we usually serve them with Salsa but, I’ve seen them eaten with kimchee or soy sauce or other sauces of choice. Enjoy!

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The new hair product- Bacon

Well, this isn’t all about bacon but, while I was working on writing out this recipe, I did use a little bacon grease. Perhaps my mind was on another planet. It was unintentional, but as I leaned over the pots on the stove to read the quart size, I promptly dipped my hair in the bacon grease unaware. I sat back down, looked at my pen, which I used to brush my hair away, and saw it was covered in oil. Needless to say, it was my hair product tonight and has washed out well. I’ll let you all know if it causes pigtails.
The menu tonight was Lentils and potatoes. Did you know lentils usually make it to the top 10 healthiest food of all time? They are like a super food, and made right taste delicious too.
Before being in Mongolia, lentils were never on my table, but since being here, and the lack of fresh produce that our bodies were craving, we decided to try it. This recipe has received it’s name from the latest movie series we watched. “The Lentils of Endor” The name came from our thoughts that it would be something eaten by the boys favorite creatures (as of last week) the Ewoks.
Another note on Lentils, usually people turn their noses up at beans, kids don’t eat them and grown ups don’t always enjoy them. I thought this about Lentils too, but these are terrific made this way. The boys all cleared there plates!

Recipe: Lentils of Endor

1 lb green dry lentils, rinse off
3 large carrots, peeled and diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed
1 tsp black pepper
1 beef bullion cube
2 tsp parsley flakes
Salt
3 quarts water

Bring above ingredients to a boil. Then lower heat to a simmer and let simmer for 1 hour. Check water levels occasionally to make sure it’s still covered with water.

8 potatoes, peeled and diced
1-3 Tsbp oil
1 Tbsp Green Chile powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1-2 tsp black pepper
Salt

(note: if you are fortunate to find or have green chile powder from New Mexico, it makes a huge difference. If you cannot find green chile powder, the equivalent of red chile powder will do, only add as much as you’d like it to be spicy)
Brown potatoes with seasoning in oil in a skillet and set aside.

Bacon- we use a whole pack.
Fry until done.

Alternately you could use diced up ham and lightly brown it with the potatoes.

Serve the lentils, potatoes, and bacon all mixed together.

It may not be the most colorful looking meal, but it sure tastes good and fills you up with something healthy and enjoyable.
If you eat this stuff, you’ll be as strong as a Wookie, or maybe an Ewok at least.

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(Reference: Raymond, Joan (March 2006). “World’s Healthiest Foods: Lentils (India)”. Health Magazine)

On a side note, we had it for breakfast the next day with fried eggs and green chile sauce topped with cheddar cheese on corn tortillas. It was amazing (and the boys asked for seconds).

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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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