Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Take a Seat at the Table: Creamy Chicken Noodle Soup! The crockpot is essential, in my opinion. Never mind the fact that a slow-cooker turns the entire house into a well-seasoned bistro. It’s the hands-free unattended cooking with astounding results that makes it a winner in my book. Throw everything together, let it simmer, and enjoy the meal to come. Leftovers are delicious and clean-up is a snap!

CREAMY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

Ingredients:

4-6 chicken fillet tenders

2 tablespoons olive oil

1/8 teaspoon lemon pepper

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon rosemary

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder

1/8 teaspoon celery seed

60-ounces chicken broth

23-ounce can of cream of chicken soup

3 stalks celery, cut-up

1/2 pound mini carrots, whole

1/2 pound mushrooms, sliced

1/4 cup onion, chopped

3 bay leaves

2 cups home style noodles

1/2 cup butter

Instructions:

Sauté chicken tenders in a large skillet with olive oil, lemon pepper, thyme, rosemary, garlic powder, and celery seed. Remove from heat. Pour the cream of chicken soup into the crockpot. Slowly add the chicken broth, stirring until the two are well. blended. Transfer the sautéed chicken tenders from the skillet. Add celery, carrots, mushrooms, and onions. Stir gently. Add bay leaves. Heat on high setting for four hours. Remove lid and shred the chicken for a chunky consistency. Return to soup. Add noodles and butter. Reduce heat to low and simmer two hours longer. Remove bay leaves before serving.

Jicama Tortillas

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Equal Measures: Jicama Tortillas! Jicama is another word for Mexican turnip or potato. Interesting, isn’t it? The flavor is sweet and starchy when eaten raw with a sprinkling of sea salt. Being Paleo-friendly, the jicama is popular as a low-carb, low-sugar nutritious snack. It may be available in your local supermarket’s produce department as a precut veggie that resembles French fries. In that case, simply squeeze a lime wedge over it before sprinkling with sea salt and chili powder. I understand it’s also available in “tortilla” packets. I wanted to make my own tortillas, so the large bulb was an easy choice. Peel, slice, and steam. There you have it; a miniature tortilla similar to a street taco in size. Add precooked shredded turkey, cheddar cheese, and a prepackaged salad kit. It’s a meal-in-a-snap, perfect for weeknights.

JICAMA TORTILLAS

Ingredients:

1 large jicama, peeled and sliced into thin discs

12-ounce bag Southwest Chopped Salad Kit, creamy cilantro dressing included

2 cups precooked shredded turkey, chicken, pork, or beef

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons vinegar

1 tablespoon butter

1 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon oregano

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon cumin powder

1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded

1 lime, cut into wedges

Fresh cilantro for garnish

Instructions:

To make jicama tortillas, place sliced discs in a microwave-safe dish with two tablespoons water. Cover and microwave on High for 3 minutes. This turns them from brittle to flexible. Drain hot water; dab tortillas on paper towels, then return them to covered dish to cool. Set aside. Empty chopped salad mix into a bowl. Pour prepared cilantro salad dressing over all. Mix well. Set aside. For the meat mixture, combine orange juice, vinegar, butter, sea salt, oregano, garlic powder, and cumin powder in a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer and add shredded meat. Stir together. Cook until moisture is absorbed, about 10 minutes. For a crispy finish, add 1-2 tablespoons vegetable oil. Increase heat to medium-high setting. Let meat fry until browned and crispy on bottom. Remove from heat. Stir with a fork. Serve jicama tortillas with chopped salad, shredded meat, and cheddar cheese. Garnish with lime wedges and fresh cilantro.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter Z

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Zuppa Toscana! The secret to great Italian soups can be found as near as your local Italian restaurant. However if you want to save a little money, now you can create a mouth-watering meal at home in your very own kitchen. Don’t believe me, check your pantry. With basic ingredients plus Italian herbs, you can get outstanding results. Pick up bakery fresh breadsticks or focaccia bread for a hearty meal. Buon Appetito!

ZUPPA TOSCANA

Ingredients:

1 pound Italian sausage, ground

1 sweet onion, chopped

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1/4 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 potatoes, washed with peel on and cut into chunks

14-ounce can chicken broth

1 1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons flour

1 cup heavy cream

2 ounces diced pimentos

2 cups kale, gently torn

4 strips of thick-sliced bacon, cooked and crumbled

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium heat, brown Italian sausage until fully cooked and crumbled. Add onion, garlic powder, sea salt, black pepper, and red pepper flakes. Stir and continue cooking until onions are soft. Reduce heat to keep warm. In a 2-quart pan, add potato chunks, chicken broth, and water. Bring to a boil; reduce heat to medium and cook until potatoes are tender, about 20 minutes. Blend flour with enough water to make a paste. Slowly add flour mixture to potatoes, stirring constantly to avoid lumps. Add sausage mixture. Stir to combine. Simmer 15 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add heavy cream, diced pimentos, torn kale, and crumbled bacon. Heat through. Ladle into soup bowls. Serve with breadsticks or focaccia bread.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter N

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? The Color of Food: Normandy Vegetable Soup! Take a stroll down a country lane where small-scale growers of local gardens nourish a family farm with adventurous dishes. Simple vegetable consumption combined with milk, butter, and cheese appeals to the taste buds. Perhaps it’s a throwback to our childhood where nothing went to waste. Or maybe it’s the fact that classic veggies are always a good idea. Normandy Vegetable Soup. Put a twist on your next meal-in-a-bowl.

NORMANDY VEGETABLE SOUP

Ingredients:

1 sweet onion, chopped

1 teaspoon Herbs de Provence

1 tablespoon olive oil

1/4 cup butter

1/4 cup flour

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1/8 teaspoon black pepper

2 cups light cream

2 cups chicken broth

16-ounce bag Normandy vegetables, thawed*

4-6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

Instructions:

In a skillet over medium-high heat, add chopped sweet onion, herbs de Provence, and olive oil. Sauté 5 minutes or until soft. Set aside. In a 2-quart pan over medium-low heat, melt butter. Do not scorch. Add flour, sea salt, and pepper. Stir for 2-3 minutes to make a roux. Slowly add light cream, stirring often to remove lumps. Bring to a slow boil. Carefully add chicken broth, onions, Normandy vegetables. Bring mixture back to a boil. Reduce to medium-low and cook for 20 minutes until vegetables are tender. Stir in sharp cheddar cheese until cheese is melted. Ladle into bowls. Serve hot.

*Normandy vegetables are broccoli and cauliflower florets, sliced carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash. Some varieties include a few red pepper bits, green beans, and lima beans.

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter C

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Front-Runner Favs: Cincinnati “Cottage” Ham! W-h-a-a-a-t? When my husband requested something his mother used to cook that conjured up pleasant memories of his youth, I couldn’t refuse. He was raised in southwestern Ohio where traditional foods, like Cottage Ham, make up comfort food thrown together in one pot for a meal that practically makes your eyes roll back. Local butchers recognize the term since they’ve been using it for over a hundred years. Secret recipes include tender meat taken from the shoulder of the pig, salt-and-sugar cured, and then hickory wood-smoked. The name became popular in the 1800s because the Cottage Ham is small in size, just like a tiny house.  
CINCINNATI “COTTAGE” HAM 
Ingredients: 

2-3 pound smoked pork shoulder butt

2 pounds fresh green beans, trimmed

1 teaspoon sea salt

1/2 teaspoon black pepper 

1 onion, chopped

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, quartered
Instructions:

Place cottage ham in a slow cooker. Cover with water. Add green beans, sea salt, black pepper, and onions. Cook on Low 8 hours. Add quartered red potatoes. Cook 2 hours longer. Cut ham into thick pieces with green beans and potatoes. Ladle juice over all. Serve immediately. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter X

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Xavier Grilled Steak! Just when you thought a juicy New York Strip steak couldn’t get any better, here you go. Grilled to taste, smothered in gooey Swiss cheese and crowned with fresh asparagus spears is a meal-in-one guaranteed to make anyone feel like royalty. For those who love onions, take it one step further. Sprinkle crispy French-fried onions over all before serving. Looks good, doesn’t it? Try not to stare. 
XAVIER GRILLED STEAK
Ingredients: 

2 New York Strip steaks, 1 1/2 inches thick

2 tablespoons olive oil

Sea salt and cracked black pepper to taste

10 asparagus spears, ends trimmed

4 slices Swiss cheese 

1/4 cup French-fried onions
Instructions:

Rub both sides of the New York Strip steak with olive oil. Season to taste with sea salt and cracked pepper. Place in a shallow dish. Marinate steak for 45 minutes in the refrigerator, turning once. Remove from refrigerator to allow meat to come to room temperature, approximately 15 minutes. Preheat outdoor grill. Cook steaks over medium heat 4-5 minutes until slightly charred. Turn the steaks over and grill 3 minutes longer for medium-rare, 5 minutes longer for medium, or 8 minutes longer for medium-well. Meanwhile to steam asparagus spears, bring water to a boil. Reduce to simmer. Place asparagus spears into the steamer basket. Cover and steam approximately 3-5 minutes until asparagus turns bright green, but is still tender. Remove from steamer. When steaks are cooked to perfection, place them on a platter to rest so the juices are absorbed. (This is the secret to juicy steak.) While the meat is resting, place two slices of Swiss cheese on each. Divide asparagus spears between them. Tent with foil. Let rest 5-7 minutes. Top with crispy French-fried onions before serving. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter B

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Foodstuff Redefined: Buffalo Chicken Crostini! Take a spicy hot dip, add the buttery texture of avocado, and finish it with the cooling sensation of natural yogurt. Now smile. You’ve just bitten into an appetizer-turned-meal after an exhausting day you’ll soon leave behind. This is how we treat ourselves right. You’re welcome. 
BUFFALO CHICKEN CROSTINI
Ingredients:

8 ounces Neufchâtel cheese, softened 

4 ounces goat cheese, room temperature 

3/4 cup ranch dressing 

1 tablespoon dry ranch seasoning mix

3/4 cup red hot sauce

2 cups cooked chicken, chopped 

3/4 cup extra-sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

1 avocado, pitted

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

1 teaspoon lemon juice

1/3 cup Greek yogurt

1-2 green onions, snipped

1 baguette loaf, sliced and toasted
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, beat Neufchâtel cheese, goat cheese, ranch dressing, ranch dry seasoning, and red hot sauce. Fold in chopped chicken. Spread mixture into a prepared casserole dish. Bake 15 minutes. Sprinkle extra-sharp cheddar cheese over top. Bake 15 minutes longer. Meanwhile, using a mini chopper, combine avocado, garlic powder, sea salt, and lemon juice. Pulse until mixture is combined but still chunky. Set aside. To assemble crostini, spread creamed avocado over toasted baguette slices. Add a scoop of Buffalo Chicken dip. Dollop with Greek yogurt. Garnish with onion snips. 

Eating My Way Through the Alphabet: Letter C

What’s Cooking in Gail’s Kitchen? Sunshine Eats: Cobb Salad! Some days the dinner option is as plain as the nose on my face. Leftover rotisserie chicken becomes the star attraction. Using seven of your favorite ingredients, which you probably already have on hand, this time-saving classic is the perfect solution to that mundane question, “What’s for dinner?” Go easy on yourself and build a Cobb Salad on a platter for show-stopping presentation. 
COBB SALAD
Ingredients:

Bag of Spring Mix Salad Greens

3 cups chicken, precooked and shredded

3 eggs, hard-boiled and chopped

6 slices bacon, crispy and crumbled

1-2 avocados, peeled, pitted, and diced

8 ounces cherry tomatoes, halved

3/4 cup Bleu cheese crumbles

Salad Dressings of choice
Instructions:

Choose individual salad plates or a serving platter. Arrange salad greens as the base. Working from the left side of the plate to the right, arrange shredded chicken from top to bottom. Next arrange chopped egg, crumbled bacon, diced avocado, and tomato halves, ending with Bleu cheese crumbles. Drizzle with salad dressing of choice and serve. 

Go Irish: Corned Beef Tonight!

Eating corned beef brisket isn’t just for St. Patrick’s Day anymore, but when you have a good thing, go for the gold. This is the best time to stock up when it’s popular and readily available at the nearby market. Go from the traditional favorite dinner one day to corned beef hash and eggs the next morning and Reuben sliders for a late night snack. Are you getting the idea? Be creative and tell me yours!
CORNED BEEF BRISKET 
Ingredients:

3-pound corned beef brisket, boneless

1/8 teaspoon thyme

1/8 teaspoon garlic powder 

1/8 teaspoon allspice

1 tablespoon peppercorns 

1 tablespoon bay leaves

1 cup ginger beer or water

1-pound baby carrots, peeled

4 tablespoons butter

1/8 teaspoon paprika 
Instructions:

Preheat oven to 300°. Place corned beef brisket, fat side up, in a covered roaster. Sprinkle spices on top. Add 1 cup of ginger beer or water. Cover and roast for three hours. The guideline is one hour per pound. After 2 hours add carrots to roaster. Cover and cook for 1 hour. At that time, the contents should be fork tender. Let the brisket rest for 15 minutes before slicing across the grain. Remove carrots and place in a bowl. Add butter to coat. Sprinkle with paprika. 
BOILED CABBAGE 

Ingredients:

1 head of cabbage

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

Instructions:

In a deep pan, add 2 inches of water. Bring to a boil. Add cabbage quarters and salt. Reduce heat; simmer 10 minutes. Turn cabbage with tongs. Simmer 5 minutes longer until tender. Drain well. Add butter to coat cabbage thoroughly. 
PARSLEY BOILED POTATOES 

Ingredients:

3 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into sections

1/2 teaspoon salt

4 tablespoons butter

1/4 teaspoon parsley

Instructions:

Place potatoes in 2 quart saucepan. Pour in enough water to cover. Add salt. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Cook potatoes 15-20 minutes, or until tender. Drain. Add butter to coat. Garnish with parsley.