Tag Archives: carrots

Coq Au Vin

My first experience of tasting French food was on a business trip to Massachusetts. I don’t remember the name of the restaurant but I do remember the escargot one of my co-workers ordered and insisted I try. It was garlicky and a little rubbery but totally delicious. It was my first and last attempt at eating snails and although I enjoyed the taste, I did not like the texture. At this point, I could not tell you if that is the way snails are suppose to be when you cook them or if my experience was an exception. Like I said, the flavors were good but the snail did not make my mouth happy.

Fortunately, that experience did not turn me against French food. My next experience was much, much better. There are not many ways you can mess up a chicken so I ordered Coq Au Win at a nice little bistro hubby and I happened upon on one of our vacations. Now, we all know chicken can get a bit boring when you have it over and over again. Fried, baked, boiled. Ugh! Chicken can be so much more than fried, baked or boiled. Chicken can be dressed up as a stew with amazing flavors combined with mushrooms, onions and carrots. Yes, carrots. Coq Au Vin traditionally has potatoes instead of carrots. However, I chose to add carrots because I wanted to serve my Coq Au Vin with mashed potatoes. The gravy from the stew drizzled over the mashed potatoes was a delectable combination.

One more thing I changed in my recipe was the use of white wine instead of red wine. I like white wine better than red wine so I figured why not substitute the two wines. Some may say it’s not really Coq Au Vin if you don’t use red wine but don’t listen to them. Remember, make every recipe your own.

Ingredients:

4 chicken thighs bone-in (remove excess fat)

4 large carrots peeled and sliced thick

3 slices bacon

2 green onions sliced

2 pkgs sliced cremini mushrooms

½ white onion thinly sliced

1 cup chicken broth

½ cup white wine or red wine

2 tsp butter

2 tsp flour

1 tsp thyme

salt and pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Wash chicken and pat dry. Season chicken with salt and pepper then set aside.

In a large oven proof skillet or dutch oven, fry 3 slices of bacon over medium high heat until crisp and fat is rendered. Remove bacon and leave drippings in the skillet. Add chicken to the skillet and brown on both sides. Place chicken on a plate and set aside.

Lower heat to medium then add mushrooms and white onions. Saute until slightly browned for approximately 7 – 10 minutes stirring frequently. Stir in flour and butter and cook for 1 minute. Again, stirring frequently. Add wine and stir to mix. Bring to a low boil and scrap brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add thyme and a little more salt and pepper. Let simmer for 5 minutes. Stir in broth then add carrots and chicken back to the pan along with drippings. Simmer for another 3 minutes. Cover skillet and place in oven for 30 to 45 minutes. Baste after 20 minutes. Enjoy with mashed potatoes, rice or wide noodles.

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Shrimp Lo Mein

   IMG_0153_1The day I made Shrimp Spring Rolls I also made Shrimp Lo Mein. Most of the ingredients I used as the filling for the spring rolls was also used to create Shrimp Lo Mein. How great is that? Two meals and I only cooked one time.

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As I said in my Shrimp Spring Rolls post, my family loves Asian cuisine. We could eat it a couple times each week but I am sure that would get old as time goes on. We all need variety when it comes to food. At least I do. Anyway, Since I had quite a few extra ingredients I decided to make a quick Shrimp Lo Mein. The other thing my hubby and son love is pasta so Shrimp Lo Mein was definitely right up their alley. Thankfully, it did not take much to get them to agree to be my taste tester for this recipe.

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In case you didn’t know, there are all types of noodles used to make Lo Mein. I used Chinese noodles since that is what I used to make the Shrimp Spring Rolls. However, you can also used thin wonton noodles which are stringy and cooked in wonton noodle soup because they are light and delicate. Wide wonton noodles can also be used for Lo Mein. These noodles are often used in heartier soups like beef noodle soup. Of course you can just look for Lo Mein noodles which are thick and used in stir-fried noodle dishes made with a heavy sauce or gravy. In researching the variety of noodles used for my recipe I found out that Lo Mein noodles are probably the best choice when making a Lo Mein dish because they stand up better to reheating.

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Bottom-line. You can use whatever noodle you like to make Shrimp Lo Mein. In a pinch I think I would even use spaghetti noodles or linguine noodles if that was the only thing available. The most important thing to remember is add a little love to your recipe. It makes everything taste good.

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Shrimp Lo Mein

Ingredients:
1 lb large shrimp peeled and deveined
1 pkg lo mein noodles
1 pint snap peas
1 cup shredded carrots
1 tbsp sriracha sauce
2 tbsp olive oil
4 tbsp oyster sauce
½ tsp black pepper
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
juice from ½ lemon

Prepare lo mein noodles according to package. Drain and set aside.

Heat olive oil in a medium size non-stick frying pan over medium high heat. Add shrimp, sriracha sauce and lemon juice. Season with a little salt and pepper. Stir shrimp until they turn pink. Remove shrimp from pan and set aside in a small bowl. Add carrots, snap peas and a little more salt and pepper (add cayenne pepper if you really like heat) to the frying pan. Stir and let cook for 1 minute. Add oyster sauce and mix with veggies until they are well coated. Reduce to low heat and cook for another 2 minutes. Toss with lo mein noodles. Enjoy!

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Red Split Lentil Soup

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Simple says it best when making homemade soup. Red Split Lentil soup is a nice comfort food on cold days or any day you want something quick and easy to make. It takes only 6 simple ingredients to make this soup and it tastes great with a piece of crusty buttered bread. Of course the wonderful thing about this soup is that it is full of vitamin C and is heart healthy.

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When it comes to soups I like to experience the different textures and layers of taste. This Red Split Lentil soup is smooth yet has layers of subtle textures from the carrots, onions, peppers and diced bacon. If you are not a fan of pork you can substitute it with smoked turkey or go meatless.

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I was surprised when my youngest son was eager to try lentil soup. Most kids hear the word lentil and immediately make a face followed by “blah”. I guess the day I made the lentil soup was one of his more adventurous days. Surprisingly, he loved it even with the cooked carrots which he claims to dislike immensely. My son reminds me of a character in a book I recently read called “The Housekeeper and the Professor” by Yoko Ogawa. In the book, the housekeeper is constantly trying to find new ways to hide carrots in the professor’s meals but he always seemed to find them.

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Adding lots of vegetables to soups are a great way to get kids (and some adults) to eat veggies and develop their taste buds for new foods. Start with a simple soup and then pair it with something they like. Try a sandwich, crackers or warm crusty bread. They will not be able to resist.

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Red Split Lentil Soup

Ingredients:
1 16 oz bag of red split lentils
2 strips of bacon diced
1 10 oz bag of shredded carrots
2 green scallions sliced
½ medium onion diced
½ red pepper diced
2 cups low sodium chicken broth
2 cups water
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp onion powder
½ tsp parsley
½ tsp dill
¼ tsp red pepper flakes

Over medium high heat, slightly brown bacon in a large pot until fat is rendered. Add onions and scallions sauteing until soft. Add red peppers, carrots and seasonings. Stir to mix veggies then add bay leaf, chicken broth and water. Let simmer about 5 minutes then add red split lentils and stir. Reduce heat to medium low and cook until the lentils are soft. Approximately 30 minutes. Remember to stir the soup to make sure the lentils do not stick to the bottom of the pot. If necessary, add additional broth to thin out the soup and ensure the lentils are cooked.

Serve with a piece of crusty bread and enjoy!

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Carrot Salad

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Cool and refreshing is how I would describe carrot salad. It is the kind of side dish that compliments chicken, beef or pork and is good any time of the year.

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I was first introduced to carrot salad at an office party many, many years ago. The ingredients looked pretty simple so I figured it couldn’t taste too bad. I learned early on that not everyone can cook and sometimes pretty dishes are just that – pretty. Pretty does not always equal tasty so I was still hesitant when I put a spoonful of carrot salad on my plate. I was both grateful and pleasantly surprised at how good the carrot salad tasted. From that point on I looked forward to having carrot salad at our office parties.

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I think I make a rather tasty carrot salad and thought it worthy of sharing with the world. Carrots, golden raisins, cranberries, nuts and pineapple. A great combination of flavors and healthy to boot.

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Who wouldn’t love carrot salad?

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Carrot Salad

Ingredients:

1 10oz bag shredded carrots
1 14 oz can crushed pineapple well drained
1 tbsp mayonnaise
3 tbsp sour cream or Greek yogurt
½ tbsp sugar
½ tsp seasoned salt
½ cup golden raisins
½ cup cranberries
¼ cup walnuts chopped
¼ cup pecans chopped

Place all ingredients in a large bowl and mix until well blended. Let chill for 30 minutes or overnight before serving. Enjoy!

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Grandma Dee’s Chicken and Dumplings

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Chicken and Dumplings is the ultimate grandma comfort food. If made like my grandmother use to make it, it is packed with chunks of meat, sweet vegetables, potatoes and plenty of dumplings. The dumplings are my favorite part. I love almost anything made with dumplings whether it is a main course or a sweet treat like cobbler.

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Now that I am a grandma, I thought I should come up with my own chicken and dumplings recipe that my grand kids would love. Since I prefer quick and easy to long and difficult I used preformed dumplings along with fresh veggies and chicken to shorten the prep and cooking time.

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The end result was a dish I was proud to call “Grandma Dee’s Chicken and Dumplings”.

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Grandma Dee’s Chicken and Dumplings

Ingredients:
8 boneless skinless chicken thighs
2 celery stalks, sliced
2 carrots peeled, sliced
1 small onion chopped
1 small jalapeno pepper seeded and chopped (optional)
1 box frozen peas
1 10 oz can cream of chicken soup
5 cups water
½ box Anne’s frozen dumplings
½ tsp poultry seasoning
½ Adobo seasoning
1 tbsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp basil
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp onion powder
1 bay leaf

In a large pot add water, chicken, 1 stalk of celery, 2 tbsp onions and seasonings. Cook at medium high temperature until chicken is tender and cooked all the way through. Remove chicken. Chop chicken into big chunks and set aside.

Strain broth then add broth back to the pot. Add carrots, remaining onions, celery, jalapeno pepper and a little more salt. Cook for 10 minutes then add peas and dumplings. Cook for another 8 minutes gently stirring the dumplings.

In a small bowl add cream of chicken soup and ½ cup of the hot broth. Whisk them together then add to the pot along with the chicken. Reduce heat to simmer and cook an additional 5 minutes to heat chicken and soup mixture.

To prepare in a crock pot:
Add chicken, water, celery, onions, carrots, jalapeno pepper and seasonings to a crock pot. Cook on high for 1 hour. Add carrots and dumplings. Gently stir in the dumplings and cook an additional 15 minutes. In a small bowl add cream of chicken soup and ½ cup of the hot broth. Add mixture and peas to the crock pot. Reduce to low heat and cook for 10 more minutes.

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Carrot Soup

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Who knew carrots came in different colors? I didn’t until a recent trip to Trader Joe’s. I was surprised to see something other than orange carrots and of course intrigued with the thought of what I could do with them. A nice soup came to mind and I could only imagine what flavors the various carrots would produce.

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Soups are one of those dishes that no matter what you throw into the pot it can come out all right. I have had a few failures when making soup (my first attempt at miso soup with rice noodles) but most of the time it works as long as the soup is full of flavor.

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The carrot soup I created was a winner with the family using only a few basic ingredients. Keeping it simple also works. Especially in this case.

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If you like carrots and you like soup, try bringing the two together for a delicious appetizer or meal. If you are willing to walk on the wild side, try mixing up a variety of carrots to brighten up your pot of soup.

Carrot Soup

Ingredients:
2 lbs mixed carrots sliced
1 large onion diced
2 cups vegetable or chicken broth
1 cup water
½ cup heavy cream
¼ cup ½ and ½
1 tbsp salt
1 tbsp black pepper
1 tsp parsley
1 tsp smoked cumin
½ tsp cilantro
3 dashed hot sauce
1 baby hot pepper sliced thin (optional)

Place all ingredients in a large pot and cook over medium high heat for 30 – 40 minutes until carrots are fork tender. Turn off heat and puree carrots with an immersion hand blender or place in a blender and puree. Add cream and stir until well blended. Add a little more salt if needed. Garnish with fresh parsley.