in-home cooking lessons

Roasted Root Vegetable Chicken Soup

I always make extra roasted root vegetables and I made up this recipe to use them.  Browning the chicken adds great flavor to the soup as does caramelizing the onion.  I have used Orzo instead of of rice and it works well, but if you leave it for left overs the Orzo gets a little too soft for my taste.  If you don’t have any left-over roasted root vegetables, you can roast a small amount for this recipe.

1 whole chicken breast, skinless and boneless, cut into small bite-size pieces
2 Tbs. olive oil
3/4 cup onion, diced small
1 clove garlic, finely chopped
1/4 cup celery, diced fine
1/2 cup white wine
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
3 cups chicken broth
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. rosemary
1/8 to 1/4 tsp. thyme
1 Tbs. dried parsley
2 cups roasted root vegetables, cut in small chunks
(roasted vegetables from my Roasted Root Vegetable recipe
potatoes, carrots, and parsnips work well)
1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup rice (wild rice is good)
1/2 cup frozen peas (optional)

In a large pan, saute the chicken breasts in the olive oil on medium-high heat until browned, sprinkle with salt and pepper, stirring when needed.  When the chicken pieces are browned and cooked through, remove them from the pan.  In the same pan, on medium low heat, add the onion and cook until they are soft and starting to carmelize, stirring often so they don’t burn. The onion should be  golden brown.  Add the garlic and celery, cooking until the celery is softened, stirring often.  Pour in the wine and boil down so it is reduced by half, scraping any brown pieces off the pan.  Add the lemon juice and chicken broth and bring to a boil.  Add the herbs and rice.  Lower the heat and cover.  Simmer until the rice is tender, cooking according to the directions for the rice.  This will take 20 to 40 minutes, depending on the type of rice used.  Uncover and turn up the heat.  Add the mushrooms, simmer until the mushrooms are softened.  Return the chicken and root vegetables to the pan, salt and pepper to taste. More herbs may be added if desired and frozen peas if desired.

4 generous servings

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Friday, December 11th, 2009 Roasted Root Vegetable Chicken Soup No Comments

Roasted Root Vegetables

Roasting root vegetables with olive oil and a few herbs makes a great side dish.  These are the vegetables I like to use but you can add beets, turnips, and rutabagas if you enjoy the taste of them.   These are great with any meat.   The left over potatoes, carrots, and parsnips gives my Chicken Vegetable Soup a great flavor.

5 medium potatoes
3 parsnips
5 carrots
2 medium sweet potatoes
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
dried rosemary
dried thyme

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F.

Peel all vegetables and cut in large chunks.  The sweet potatoes and potatoes cook fastest so they should be larger than the carrot and parsnip chunks.  Put them in a large bowl and drizzle with the olive oil.  Sprinkle them with about half a teaspoon of the dried herbs and sprinkle them with a little salt.  With your hands, mix them up so the herbs are equally distributed.  Spread out on a large cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Put into the preheated oven and bake.  Bake for 40 minutes and start testing for doneness by poking them with a fork.  When they are done, the fork will slide into the vegetable easily.  Serve with your choice of meat.

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Friday, December 11th, 2009 Roasted Root Vegetables No Comments

Focaccia Bread

I have been wanting to make a good focaccia bread that is light and airy and a little bit chewy, so have been researching blogs, artisan websites, and bookstores.  I found a site with a video that explained some of the terms, like preferment and poolish, and showed what it takes to make a great focaccia.  I made some last Saturday and it turned out just like I wanted.  I followed the directions I found at but added a few ingredients.  It was snowing hard Saturday and I didn’t have any bread drink that Chef Keem uses in his video, so I substituted water.  I’ll plan farther ahead next time and buy some and report the difference; maybe the difference is in the nutritional value.

Here is the recipe I used, technique adapted from  Chef Keem’s as shown on his website.

Focaccia Recipe


1 ¾ cups water (80 degrees)
¼ cup probiotic drink: Kombucha or bread drink (I didn’t have any so substituted water)
2 cups of bread flour
1 package dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sugar


1 cup water (80 degrees)
3 cups bread flour
1 package dry yeast
1 Tablespoon sea salt
1 Tablespoon sugar
Preferment from above
1 1/2 tsp. garlic powder (next time I’ll use about 1 Tbs. finely chopped garlic)
1 1/2 tsp. oregano
1 1/2 tsp thyme
2/3 tsp. basil
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup sun dried tomatoes, finely chopped

Instructions for making the preferment or poolish:
Mix together all ingredients in a large bowl, consistency should be like a pancake batter.  Cover the bowl and poolish with a plastic bag and set aside for 5 or 6 hours, stirring occasionally in a folding motion.

Making the focaccia dough:
Mix together all above ingredients with about 100 beats of spoon, using a turning rather than a beating technique.  Cover with a bag and let the dough rest about an hour.  Pull the dough away from the side of the bowl and drizzle a little olive oil between the dough and the bowl.  Pull and fold the dough 4 to 8 times with well-oiled hands, as seen on Chef Keem’s video.  If you haven’t watched his video, please do, because his explanations are very helpful.  Let the dough rest and pull and fold it again, then rest and fold one more time, letting it rest about an hour between each folding.
Prepare a couple large cookie sheets by lining them with parchment paper and drizzling some olive oil on them.  Oil your hands, divide the dough, place on the prepared cookie sheets, and gently work it with your fingertips to stretch it, let as many air bubbles as you can remain in the dough, drizzle some olive oil on top of the dough (about ¼ cup).  Let it rest a few minutes, then work with it some more.  To cover most of the pan, it will take two or three rest periods.  Let it raise, undisturbed for an hour or so, then bake it in a preheated 500° oven.  Start checking after 15 minutes to see if it is done. Turn down the heat to 425° the last 5 minutes.  Mine took about 20 minutes to bake.

You can add a cheese or topping if you wish, before and during the baking process.  Watch Chef Keem’s video for hints on adding toppings.

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Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 Focaccia Bread No Comments

Vegie Bars

These bars are fresh tasting, nutritious, and have always been a family hit.  They are great to take to parties, too.

vegie bars

2 tube packages crescent rolls
2 (8 oz) packages cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1 1/2 packages dry mix Hidden Valley Ranch Dressing
3/4 cup grated cauliflower
3/4 cup grated carrots
3/4 cup grated celery
3/4 cup grated broccoli
3/4 cup grated radishes

Mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise, sour cream, and Hidden Valley Ranch mix.  Let the mixture sit overnight.

Grate the vegetables, mix and put in a calendar.  Cover, refrigerate, and let drain for 2 hours or over night.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Pop the Crescent Rolls, pat them out on a large, cookie sheet that has been sprayed with cooking spray.  Bake 7 minutes until golden brown, remove from the oven and let cool.

After the dough crust has cooled, spread Mayonnaise mixture on it.  Squeeze the remaining moisture from the vegetables and spread evenly over the mayonnaise layer.  Best if the vegetable layer is applied as close to serving it as possible so the bars don’t get soggy from vegetable juice.

Cut into 3 inch bars and serve.  I have found it easier to cut using a pizza cutter.

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Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 Vegie Bars No Comments

Vegetable Dip

After this dip, you will not go back to using ranch dip to dip your vegetables in.  Use a verity of vegetables, including carrot, broccoli, cauliflower, celery,  radishes, green onion, and cucumber.  Making the dip at least 8 hours in advance is optimal; it lets the flavors blend.

1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sour cream
1 Tbs. dry minced onion
1 Tbs. Dry parsley flakes
1 tsp. Dill Weed
1 tsp. Beau Monde Spice

Measure the ingredients and put them all in a bowl, mix thoroughly, cover and refrigerate until served.  Refrigerate overnight for best flavor.  Serve with an assortment of vegetables.

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Tuesday, December 8th, 2009 Vegetable Dip No Comments

Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies

For Tami.

I have been using this sugar cookie recipe for years.  They are a soft cookie full of butter flavor.

1 cup butter, room temperature (not margarine)
1 1/2 cup sugar
1 egg + 2 egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 Tbs. cream
1 1/2 cups flour (more for rolled cookies)
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. baking powder
butter cream frosting (recipe following)

Cream together the butter and sugar.  Add the egg, egg yolks, vanilla, and cream and mix till smooth and creamy.  Combine flour, salt, and baking powder and mix into sugar mixture.  Stir well until well combined.  To make rolled cookies, slowly add more flour, one Tablespoon at a time until dough looses it’s stickiness; careful not to add too much or the cookies will be hard and dry.  You can cover and refrigerate at this time if you want to bake them later. (if refrigerated, let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes before rolling it out).

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.

Lightly flour your work surface and put about 1/3 of the dough on the floured area, keeping the remaining dough covered with plastic wrap so it doesn’t dry out.  Lightly work the dough until it can be easily rolled out, making sure the surface is floured enough so the dough doesn’t stick to it.  Fold the dough several times, keep the dough floured so the rolling pin doesn’t stick and roll it to about 1/2 inch thick (don’t roll too thin).  Put about 1/4 cup of flour on your work surface.  Tap the cookie cutters in the flour and cut your shapes, making sure to tap the cookie cutters in the flour before cutting the dough each time so they don’t get dough stuck to them.  Transfer each cookies to an ungreased cookie sheet with a pancake turner and bake for about 8 minutes or until the cookie just starts to turn a golden color on the edges.  If baked too long, the cookie will be crispy instead of soft.  After removing the cookies from the oven, let them sit on the pan for a couple minutes then remove them and place on a cooling rack.  Add another bit of fresh dough to the rolled out left over bits and mix them together then roll the dough as before.  After cutting more cookies, continue adding fresh dough until all dough is used.

After the cookies are cooled, make frosting and frost them and decorate them.  put the frosted cookies in a single layer on a cookie sheet and put them in the freezer until the frosting is hard.  Put the frozen cookies in a bag and store in the freezer.  When ready to serve, put the cookies out on a plate and allow to thaw.  I find freezing the cookies keeps them soft.

Butter Cream Frosting

2 Tbs. butter, melted
4 Tbs. cream
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
powder sugar

Mix the butter, cream, and vanilla in a bowl.  Add powder sugar starting with one cup of powder sugar, then add a little more at a time until frosting is slightly firm but not too stiff to spread easily.  After frosting each cookie, sprinkle with colored sugar sprinkles.  If you wait until after all cookies are frosted before decorating, the frosting will be too dry and the sprinkles won’t stick.  Make more frosting if needed.

* Make sure you use pure vanilla extract for best flavor.

Cookie recipe from an old Fanny Farmer Cookbook.

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Saturday, December 5th, 2009 Old Fashioned Sugar Cookies No Comments