Chicken and Rice Soup.

I started out the week feeling a bit under the weather. On Monday, I got home from after-work cocktails, ate a quick dinner, and got right into bed. Still not at my best on Tuesday, I went right home after work and decided to jump on my sickness problem with an good old-fashioned remedy: I poured a glass of red wine and made this soul-warming soup…which I ate in bed under my cozy comforter while watching the Cubs lose another game. I’ll be sure to make a note here if I make a miraculous soup-driven recovery, but either way, mannnn was this soup good. Most soups with this much flavor take at least an hour or two to cook, but this one only takes about 45 minutes total! Lightly spiced chicken, rice, and veggies in a warm, comforting broth: just what a sick girl needs.

INGREDIENTS

1 boneless, skinless chicken breast
1/4 tsp cumin
1/8 tsp powdered ginger
1/8 tsp red pepper flakes
1/8 tsp coriander
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup brown rice
1 tsp butter
1 medium onion, diced
1 carrot, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 medium potato, diced
6 cups stock or broth (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 1/2 tsp dried parsley
1/2 tsp dried marjoram leaves

DIRECTIONS

Preheat oven to 350. Season the chicken breast with cumin, ginger, red pepper flakes, coriander, salt, and pepper. Wrap it in foil and bake until just cooked through, about 25 minutes.

In a small pot, cook rice according to package directions. We want the rice slightly “al dente,” since it will be going in the soup pot after it’s cooked.

In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, heat butter and add onion, carrot, celery, garlic, and potatoes. Cook about 3 minutes, until starting to soften.

Pour in stock or broth and season with parsley, marjoram, salt, and pepper (be generous with the pepper!). Bring to a boil, then turn down the heat and simmer about 20 minutes.

When the chicken is cooked, shred or cut it up into bite size pieces and add it to the pot. Cook an additional 10 minutes or so.

Garnish with fresh parsley and prepare to be comfort-fooded.

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Cilantro Chipotle Chicken.

This is another dish born of necessity. Last night, my fridge contained (among other things) a bunch of cilantro and a few chipotle chiles that were about to go bad. So I made up this recipe and had a fabulous dinner! I served it with a caramelized onion and pea couscous, but it would also make a great fajita filling. Or, even better, shred it and make chicken quesadillas. I’m a total quesadilla fiend, so I think I’ve just inspired myself for a future recipe: cilantro chipotle chicken quesadillas with corn salsa. Mmmmm. But back to the oven-baked original of today’s post—it’s juicy, really flavorful, and has a nice spicy kick to it. Feel free to use less chipotle/adobo sauce if you’re a spice whimp, or to add another chipotle if you’re extra brave!

INGREDIENTS

2 whole chicken legs (you could definitely use breasts too…I just like dark meat)
1/4 cup olive oil
1/4 cup fresh cilantro, chopped
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1 tbsp honey
juice of 1 lime
2 canned chipotle chiles, chopped, plus 1 tbsp adobo sauce

DIRECTIONS

Add all ingredients to a plastic bag. Seal the bag and rub the marinade all over the chicken. Let it marinate for at least 30 minutes, or overnight if you’re patient (I am not).

Preheat oven to 375 F. Line a pan with foil and lay the chicken in it, skin side up.

Bake the chicken until it’s done, around 25-35 minutes.

That’s it! Don’t you just love an easy yet tasty recipe for a weeknight dinner?

Coq au Vin.

Coq au vin, unlike revenge, is a dish best served hot. It’s a classic in French cuisine, with tender, fall-off-the-bone chicken in a rich, savory wine sauce with a hint of tomato, speckled with mushrooms and shallots and bacon. These flavors are just amazing! It’s a perfect dish for dinner parties, but this time, I’ve made it to have for lunch at work during the week. Lucky me. Totally impressive but actually very simple to execute, this recipe is definitely one worth mastering.

INGREDIENTS

3 lb chicken (I used 4 legs and 2 breasts)
salt and pepper to taste
1 pad butter
olive oil
4 strips bacon, cut into small strips or lardons
3 shallots, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
8 oz. mushrooms, rough chop
1 cup stock, plush a splash (I used homemade chicken stock)
1 cup white wine (I used Chardonnay)
1/2 cup canned crushed tomato
2 bay leaves
1 tbsp flour (thicken with potato flour for a gluten-free sauce)
chopped parsley for garnish

DIRECTIONS

Rinse and pat dry chicken, then season with salt and pepper.

Heat butter and olive oil in Dutch oven or other large soup pot. Working in batches, brown chicken on all sides and then transfer to a plate.

In the same pot, cook the bacon. When the bacon is crisp, add shallots and garlic and cook until soft.

In a separate pan, saute mushrooms in olive oil until soft. Set aside.

Deglaze the chicken pot with a splash or two of stock and stir.

Then place chicken back in the pot. Pour wine and the rest of the stock over the chicken and add mushrooms, crushed tomato, and bay leaves. Cover pot with lid and simmer for half an hour.

When chicken is fork-tender, remove from pot. Remove the bay leaves at this point, too. Place half a cup of the sauce into a small bowl and stir flour into it with a fork. Bring the pot of sauce/gravy to a low boil and whisk the flour-thickened portion into it. Cook for 2 minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Spoon sauce over chicken and serve with rice or potatoes, and garnish with parsley. Makes for luscious leftovers too!

Buffalo Chicken Grilled Cheese.

A friend had an idea for this fabulous sandwich, and it’s so easy, it’s barely a “recipe” at all! This simple sandwich is a tasty, spicy take on a classic comfort food, and it goes well with bleu cheese dressing and baked sweet potato fries. And it’s a great way to quiet a craving for buffalo wings without eating anything fried.

INGREDIENTS (makes 2 sandwiches)
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
Hot sauce (I like Tabasco or Frank’s)
Mayo
2 green onions, chopped
pepper
cheddar or swiss cheese
soft bread
butter

DIRECTIONS

Combine chicken, hot sauce, mayo, green onion, and pepper to taste.

Lightly butter  2 pieces of bread. The buttered sides will be the outer sides of the sandwich, the ones that touch the pan. Assemble each sandwich with 1 cup of buffalo chicken and 1 slice of cheese.

Transfer to heated pan and cover. Cook until browned on the bottom and flip. When both sides are browned, remove from heat. Serve with bleu cheese dressing on the side.