Immune Boosting Chicken and Rice Soup

It’s raining and cool today so I decided to modify a recipe I found and get ready for fall with some healthy, delicious soup! I took advantage of our local farmer’s market and picked up a bunch of kale and a large leek. Most of the other items I had on hand so this was a fairly inexpensive soup and it made about 5 quarts!

2-3 tbsp olive oil
2 pounds chicken, deboned and skin removed, cut into small cubes
10 cups chicken broth
8 cups kale
3 large carrots, finely chopped or sliced
1 medium leek, white and light green parts thinly sliced
1 lemon thinly sliced or peel removed and cut into small cubes
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 tbsp lemon pepper seasoning
4 cups cooked rice

Coat chicken in olive oil and lemon pepper seasoning and cook in a large pan on stovetop over medium heat until cooked through.

In a 6 qt pot combine a bit of olive oil, carrots, and leeks and cook over medium heat until carrots become slightly tender.

Add in chicken to the carrot mixture and stir well. Slowly add in chicken broth and lemon juice. Bring to a boil. Lower heat and add in lemon slices and kale. Simmer until veggies are tender, about 20 minutes. Add in rice and heat through.

For extra lemon flavor use and additional 1/2 cup of lemon juice when cooking the rice. For a bit of a kick add in more black pepper to taste.

Fajita Unburger Recipe

The other night I was watching and unburger challenge on The Food Network. I was disappointed that no one made a veggie option so I came up with my own. Presenting the Fajita Unburger! Definitely will be making this one again.

I first cut up peppers and onion. I used a red bell pepper, green bell pepper, and some orange and yellow sweet mini peppers I had on hand. I added in a red onion for more flavor.

Next I mixed up some fajita seasoning using paprika, chili powder, cayenne, garlic powder, cumin, minced onion, and a bit of oregano. Chipotle would have been a good addition as well.

I then squeezed fresh lime into the mix to give it a bit more flavor.

While that was cooking I rubbed garlic powder all over a portabella mushroom cap and baked for 15 minutes. I also started on the homemade pico.

I used the rest of the onion and lime. I omitted jalepeno because I added extra cayenne to the pepper mixture. I’m also one of those people that doesn’t like cilantro so I omitted that as well.

Once the mushroom cap had baked for 15 minutes I added in the pepper mixture and topped with cheese and stuck it back in the oven to finish baking and to melt the cheese.

I then topped with the pico and a bit of sour cream. I probably would have made the mushroom have a bit more flavor and used more lime juice, but otherwise it was pretty tasty!

Too Much Kale?

It’s that time of year where gardens are starting to produce an overabundance of veggies. Like most years, I know people that have so much kale that they don’t know what to do with it all. Freezers are already full and friends have already taken more than enough, yet the plants keep producing. Is there a solution to this so that the food doesn’t get wasted?

Actually, there is a viable solution that’s fairly quick and easy-kale chips. I’m personally not a fan of this vitamin packed snack, but I’ve found a good use for them. I simply make them in my oven and then crush them up and use them like seasoning. Save it for soup for this fall, sprinkle in pasta sauce, sprinkle on your favorite meal, etc. They really don’t have a strong flavor and the vitamins stay in the veggie even when roasted in the oven. Plus the crushed kale chips take far less storage space in the kitchen. For best results store in a glass container with a tight-fitting lid.

Tips and Tricks for Cutting Large Amounts of Produce

I typically do most of my mass freezer prep in August. The reason-fresh produce is easy to come by here in the Midwest and it supports our local economy. It’s also more cost efficient for me to buy most of it from a local farm. Winning all around!

With 10-13 onions that I need to chop alone cutting all of this takes a lot of time. My method may not work for everyone, but I have found some ways to cut down on time. I highly recommend using glass containers for overnight storage to avoid plastic discoloration and permanent smell.

Onions I have a small food processor that I use for the onions. I simply cut them into large chunks, then pulse them until they are roughly the size I want. It takes less than 2 minutes. I don’t do these too far ahead of time because they don’t take as much time. I still like to slice up my green onions because I’m a bit OCD on how I like those cut. I typically don’t use many so it doesn’t take much time.

Bell Peppers These can be cut the day before. I don’t worry too much about uniform shapes, it doesn’t matter much when they are getting mixed into soups and casseroles. I just make sure that they are small enough to fit on my spoon with other ingredients when I eat the finished product. I cut off the bottom and top, pull out the center, then slice in half, then slice in strips and chop those up. I could run them through the food processor, but I’ve found it makes them a bit smaller than what I like. I then store them in prep containers in the refrigerator and labeled with what they will go in.

Tip: When storing your prep containers for multiple recipes try to group the containers by recipe to save time trying to find the one that you need.

Kale, Spinach, Collard Greens I don’t cut these ahead of time unless I am freezing some of them. They don’t stay fresh long and tend to wilt a bit once cut and stored. When I plan for cooking multiple days I tend to put the recipes that have these veggies first in line so that they stay nice and fresh.

Potatoes These do not fare well overnight if you cut them ahead of time. I typically cut these while I’m waiting for my water to boil.

Carrots and Celery Carrots definitely last longer in the refrigerator than celery, but both can be cut early if stored correctly. Diced tends to do better than sliced, but I’ve done both a day ahead. I’ve found that if I don’t have much air space in the container they are fine to do a day ahead of time. Especially if they are just going into soup or a pot pie mixture. If using on a salad you may want to add in some water to keep their crispness.

Tip: Organize your recipes not only by what pots and pans you will need, but also by ingredients. This saves time when you aren’t able to cut produce more than a day ahead.

Tomatoes I definitely cut these ahead of time and use a special slicer for softer veggies to save time, especially when making tomato soup. Fresh garden tomatoes tend to be a bit too juicy for the food processor, so the slicer comes in handy. You can use a food processor with these to save time. However, slicing and roasting in the oven before adding to the dish gives them a better flavor. You can store these roasted or raw overnight.

Mushrooms Mushrooms do not do well once sliced, so these I don’t do ahead of time. The special slicer I have for tomatoes I also use for the mushrooms. I can typically slice 4-5 at once so cutting them goes quickly. I prefer mine sliced to chopped, but a food chopper would also work.

Cabbage I actually never have cut this ahead of time to see how it would store in the refrigerator. I typically prep my cabbage while I have one soup simmering on the stove and onion and garlic started for the one with the cabbage. I treat it more like kale/spinach/collard greens.

For me organization and a couple of kitchen tools helps me to save time. If you have any tips you’d like to share on how you save time feel free to leave them in the comments. Even though I’ve large prepped numerous times I’m still finding ways to save time!

Before You Search…

We’ve all done it in trying to decide what to make for dinner that night, we go to Pinterest in hopes of finding the perfect recipe. Hours later and hundreds of pins relating to cinnamon rolls, puppies, nostalgia, and the perfect cookies we still don’t have a recipe for dinner. Then we ask ourselves, where did I go wrong?

The same especially is true for me when I’m attempting to meal plan for my next mass making week. Starting with a “I think I’ll see what looks good” attitude just doesn’t play out the way we want it to.

To avoid another Pinterest pitfall, here are some tips and tricks that I use myself before I begin searching for recipes:

  1. Calculate how many recipes I’m going to need. Am I stocking the freezer or am I looking for meals for that week? Do I want to include breakfasts, or just lunch and dinners?
  2. Determine how you want to cook. If it’s a busy week your best bet is to stick to crockpot recipes or one pan quick dinners with little to no prep. When stocking the freezer determine if it’s more thaw, heat, and eat or if you’re just interested in saving a bit of prep time.
  3. Stick to your plan. The easiest way for me to do this is to sort and save all of those recipes into categories that I frequently use to meal prep. The beauty of Pinterest is that you can create categories in each board for more organization. For instance, when I want to make soups I already have them categorized by type of meat so that if I want to make a lot of soups with chicken I have recipes ready to look at. Bypassing the search when I’m planning helps me save lots of time, that I’ve more than likely wasted when I’ve pinned out of boredom 🙂