Friday, November 12, 2010

Zuppa Tuscana

My father-in-law loves Olive Garden's Zuppa Tuscana and raved about it so much that my husband (who would only eat potatoes in french fry form) decided to give it a try-----and LOVED it too! I must say that my husband has now branched out to eating a baked potato on occasion and has even ventured over to the once-off-limits sweet potato. This may sound tame to most of you, but when I met this man of mine he would eat raw carrots, french fries, and corn....oh, and sometimes a cucumber. That was it. He was mostly a carnivore. So, this real food challenge has been quite a challenge. It's been difficult to find dishes that aren't meat centered. He's finally beginning to slide toward omnivore. Imagine my surprise tonight when I made this delicious soup and he ate not only the potatoes, but also (Gasp!) the kale!!

Zuppa Tuscana
1 lb. ground italian sausage
1 1/2 tsp. crushed red pepper
1 large diced white onion
4 Tbs. bacon pieces (I didn't have any bacon tonight, so I omitted this...still good, but probably better with bacon!)
2 tsp. garlic puree (I pressed 3 cloves of fresh garlic)
5 cups chicken broth
5 cups water
1 cup cream (I used half & half)
1 lb. sliced Russet potatoes, or about 3 large potatoes
1/4 of a bunch of kale

1. Saute Italian sausage and crushed red pepper in large pot. Drain off excess fat.
2. In the same pan, saute bacon, oinons, and garlic over low-medium heat until onions are soft.
3. Add chicken broth and water and bring to a boil.
4. Add sliced potatoes and cook until soft, about 30 minutes.
5. Add heavy cream and cook until throughly heated.
6. Stir in sausage and kale and cook until heated.

Shared on Fight Back Friday

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Homemade Chicken & Dumplings

Chicken and Dumplings are practically a southern staple. A few years ago I found a recipe that was quick & easy and that our family really liked. However, it is full of low fat "cream of" soups, and uses refrigerated biscuit dough. I've decided to rework the recipe to be REAL food friendly. It will require a few more moments of hands-on time, but the result will be worth it! I've shared this on Real Food Wednesday and Fightback Friday

Chicken & Dumplings
6 c. chicken broth
3 c. shredded, cooked chicken
1 1/2 c. cream of (whatever kind you want, chicken, celery) soup (see recipe for homemade below)
1/4 tsp poultry seasoning
Thinly sliced carrots & celery to taste
biscuit dough (see recipe below)

Stir together all ingredients except biscuits in dutch oven over med-high heat, and bring to boil.
Reduce heat to low and simmer about 15 minutes.
Return mixture to a boil.
At this point you can either drop small balls of dough in the simmering pot or roll biscuits very thin (1/8") and slice into strips. I've done it both ways and either works well. I prefer really small drops/slices because I like my dumplings to almost melt in my mouth. You can make them larger if you prefer.
Return to simmer and simmer 10 minutes. It can be a bit soupy at this point. The longer it sits the thicker it becomes. It is really good as leftovers as well.

Homemade "cream of" soup substitute
4 Tbl. butter
4 Tbl. flour
1/2 c. whole milk (I'm sure cream would be even better)
1/2 c. chicken broth
Salt & pepper to taste

Melt butter in a saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir in flour; keep stirring until smooth and bubbly. Remove from heat and add the chicken broth and milk, a little at a time, stirring to keep smooth. Return to heat. Bring sauce to a gentle boil; cook, stirring constantly, until it thickens. Taste and add salt and pepper, as needed to taste.

See this post about other variations of homemade "cream of" soups

Homemade Biscuits (courtesy of Old Fashioned Living)
2 c. sifted flour (I must admit I do use all-purpose)
2 tsp. baking powder
4 Tbl. butter
1/2 tsp. salt
3/4 c. whole milk

Sift flour once, measure, add other dry ingredients, and sift again. Cut in butter. Add milk, gradually, stirring until soft dough is formed.
If baking, roll to 1/2" thickness and cut with 2" biscuit cutter. Bake on ungreased cookie sheet at 400*F for 12-15 minutes. Yields 12 biscuits.