Thursday, December 9, 2010

3 bean & bacon soup

Bean and bacon soup was one of my favorites growing up. But only from Campbells, condensed thankyouverymuch!. And CERTAINLY not my Mom's homemade, dear lord, not that! Why would condensed canned soup be better that Mom's homemade? Simple: Mom wasn't (and isn't) much of a cook. Her idea of bean soup was to boil pinto beans until they were kind of soft, add a TON of onion, some large hunks of carrot and that's about it. Flavorless, thin broth and semi crunch beans and carrots. Does that sound good to anyone? Do you see now why the Witch learned to cook?

This soup has both my Mom's and Campbell's beat. It uses pantry staples, is cheap and easy to assemble. I use canned beans for time saving as well as the variety that they offer. For this soup I chose 3 white beans, cannellini (white kidney), navy and butter beans. Feel free to use whatever beans you have in your pantry! Be sure to drain and rinse them well, that helps eliminate that 'canned' flavor and rinse away some of the excess salt that they're packed in.

The rest of the soup has pretty basic ingredients, carrots which add a delightful burst of sweetness, celery for flavor and onion & garlic, well cause I love onions & garlic, they make everything taste better. I dice my onions very fine so the little Witch will eat them, too. Bay leaves are wonderful with beans, along with some thyme, both add a nice herbal floral aroma and flavor to the soup, something you just do NOT get from canned soups. And bacon, let us not forget about the bacon! I use the drippings to sautee the vegetables in, adding even more flavor to the soup. Which leaves me with tomatoes.

Time for a little story. The Witch makes this delightful pot of soup, with corn bread muffins and honey butter for her family. She tastes the soup as its cooking and feels that its going along well, pretty tasty indeed. A little more salt, a touch of pepper and dinner's served. But as the Witch ladles up the soup she thinks "there's something missing here" yet serves it to her family. A few bites into the soup the Witch says out loud "Oh crap, I forgot to add some tomatoes for acidity. Darn it!" Then the Witch remembers she has some tomato puree in the fridge, just waiting to be used up. Rather than allow the family to suffer from sub par soup, she snatches up the bowls of soup from her poor hungry family, deeming them inedible until further notice. She adds the tomato puree to the pot of soup, stirs it up and lets it simmer for about 5 LONG minutes and then reserves it to the family. Ahh, that's more like it! The color deepened and the flavor, well the bit of acidity is exactly what the soup needed to go from pretty good to holy hell this is amazing! The lesson here readers is to NOT FORGET the acidity in your soups! That flavor is very important, it balances the other flavors, brightens things up and added a depth of flavor that you simply can't do with out. Lesson learned!

3 Bean & Bacon Soup
makes 6 servings
1 onion, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 stalk celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, fine chopped
3 cups chicken stock
2 cups water
1 can navy beans, drained & rinsed
1 can cannellini (white kidney) beans, drained & rinsed
1 can butter beans, drained & rinsed
1 t dried thyme
3 bay leaves
8 oz tomato puree or sauce
kosher salt & pepper to taste
1/2 lb bacon cooked crispy, use drippings for sauteing vegetables (I used Pork & Bacon sausage)

Heat a large soup pot over medium heat. Slice the bacon into small pieces and cook until crispy. Once bacon is crisp remove meat from pan and keep the drippings.

To the bacon drippings add the carrots, celery and onion. Cook about 5 minutes stirring as needed. Add the garlic and cook for 10 minutes longer, until the onions are very soft and starting to brown.

Add the stock, water, herbs, salt & pepper, stirring up any cooked on bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes over medium low heat.

Add the beans and the tomatoes. Cook about 5 minutes longer, adjusting salt as needed. If using Pork & Bacon sausage, add the cooked meat to the soup when adding the beans & tomatoes. If using good old bacon strips add bacon as a garnish on top to avoid soggy bacon pieces

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 287.9
Total Fat 17.1 g
Saturated Fat 6.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 0.2 g
Monounsaturated Fat 0.0 g
Cholesterol 40.0 mg
Sodium 1,189.4 mg
Potassium 537.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 20.9 g
Dietary Fiber 6.4 g
Sugars 2.5 g
Protein 13.4 g

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Chicken with scallion and ginger sauce

Today's recipe comes to you courtesy of Design, Wine & Dine. Design, Wine & Dine is an exceptional cook, I've made many recipes from her blog and have loved them all! If you haven't done so already, please check out her site, I promise you'll enjoy what you see, she has a real flair with the camera and makes some killer dishes! Thanks Design, Wine & Dine for this delicious recipe, I knew when I saw it on your blog that it'd be a hit here and I was not mistaken.

Based on Design, Wine & Dine's recommendation I used the velveting process on my chicken. As usual it didn't disappoint. In addition to making the chicken flavorful, soft and yummy, the cornstarch helps thicken the sauce. The ginger in this dish isn't overpowering, its fresh bright flavor is perfect on a cold December night. The gentle onion flavor of scallion pair wonderfully with the light, crisp flavor of the white wine. Add the salty umami laden soy sauce with the velveted chicken and you've got a dish that is, well, its just down right delicious!

Chicken with scallion and ginger sauce
Makes 4 servings
Adapted from Design, Wine & Dine
1 lb chicken breast, cut into 2 in chunks
1 bunch scallions, cut on the bias into 1 inch pieces
1/2 bell pepper
3 inches ginger root, peeled and sliced into thin rounds
3 cloves garlic, sliced thin
3/4 c plus 1 T white wine
2 T soy sauce
1/2 c water
1 t sugar
3 T olive oil
1 T corn starch
1 egg white
1 t kosher salt
1/4 c salted cashews, optional
drizzle sesame seed oil, optional

Prepare chicken by marinating in velveting marinade:
~Cut chicken up and place into a bowl
~Sprinkle the kosher salt over chicken, using hands mix to evenly distribute over all the chicken pieces
~Next add 1 T white wine, mix well
~Next add the corn starch and mix well
~Next add the egg white taking care not to froth the egg with your hands
~Lastly add 1T oil and mix well.
Allow chicken to marinate for 30 minutes.

While chicken is marinading, cut up all your veggies & have them ready to go.

When 30 min is up bring a sauce pan of water to boil. Add the marinated chicken to the water in 3 batches, cooking for about 30 seconds, or until the outside just turns white. The chicken will finish cooking in the stir fry. Reserve par cooked chicken pieces and discard the boiling water.

Stir Fry instructions:
In a large sautee pan or wok, heat the remaining oil over medium high heat. Once hot add the ginger and garlic, stirring to keep garlic from burning. Cook about 30 seconds.

Add the par cooked chicken next, stir to coat in oil. Cook about 3 minutes, stirring often to avoid burning of the garlic.

Add the peppers, cook about 1-2 minutes, stirring often. Add scallions and white wine. Deglaze pan with the wine, scraping up any bits from the bottom. Allow wine to reduce by about half.

Add the soy sauce, water & sugar, cook for 2-3 minutes or until sauce has thickened slightly. If your sauce isn't thick enough you can add about 1T corn starch mixed with 1-2T water, add as much of this slurry as needed to achieve the proper thickness of sauce.

Add cashews and drizzle with sesame oil. Serve with hot cooked rice and Srirracha sauce if desired.

Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 351.7
Total Fat 16.0 g
Saturated Fat 2.6 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 2.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 10.3 g
Cholesterol 68.4 mg
Sodium 1,084.6 mg
Potassium 561.7 mg
Total Carbohydrate 13.1 g
Dietary Fiber 1.5 g
Sugars 2.3 g
Protein 31.2 g

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

CSN product review coming soon...

With the Holiday season upon us, shopping for our loved ones is at the top of most of our lists. However with busy days and nights, finding time to pick out that perfect gift is hard!! Whether you're in the market for new briefcases for the busy executive in your life or new baguette pans for the happy cook, CSN stores has anything and everything you need!! Best of all, they're offering free shipping on many items in the over 200 stores that CSN offers!

December also marks the 1 year blog anniversary of Andrea the Kitchen Witch!! I can NOT believe that its been a year since I started blogging! Thank you to all my followers, readers and facebook fans, your support means everything to me! To celebrate my blog anniversary I've decided to stock up the Witches' kitchen with some new items, compliments of CSN. The Witch is extremely indecisive so picking something will be hard. Will it be a new wok? What about an immersion blender? I can't decide!!! But once I do, I'll come back here & tell you all about it, honestly and openly. 'Cause lets face it, if you get something and it rocks, you want to tell everyone about it! And if you get something & it doesn't meet your expectations, its just as worthwhile to tell you all about that, too.

So help a Witch out, check out & tell me what you think the Witch should get for her kitchen. Have fun browsing!

Filipino Adobo drumsticks

While blogsurfing the other day I discovered yet another delicious sounding recipe: this one was from Gina at Gina's Skinny Taste. She has a lot of delicious, low cal and Weight Watchers friendly recipes on her blog and everything I've tried from her site has been very yummy. When I ran across Filipino Adobo chicken I had to stop and look. Soy sauce, vinegar, bay leaves, garlic and pepper. That's it! Well hell, that sounds delicious, different and just plain GOOD! So I decided then & there that I must make it.

When I went to my grocery store I found a family pack of chicken drumsticks, 14 of them, for $4.50. That price told me that I was on the right track with this dinner idea! Vinegar I have on hand at all times along with soy sauce. All in all, including pantry items, I'd have to estimate the total cost of this meal, including side dishes of green beans and brown rice, to be about $6. And that's enough for 7 meals!! You just can't beat that!

This recipe was beyond simple and easy. And it could easily be adapted for the slow cooker (just omit the water in the cooking process). The taste was pretty good, however I will make a few changes next time I make this; one of which will be to add some honey to the marinade. I think a little sweetness would help cut the acidity of the vinegar. I'll also cook up some peppers and onions, the sweetness from the veg would play nicely with the savory chicken. All in all, this is a very cost effective family friendly meal that we'll be making again I'm quite sure!

Filipino Adobo drumsticks
makes 4 servings, 2 drumsticks each
From Gina's Skinny Taste
8 chicken legs, skinned if desired
1/3 c soy sauce
1/3 c cider vinegar
6 bay leaves
6 pepper corns, crushed (or 1/4 t ground pepper)
6-8 cloves garlic, papers removed and clove crushed
1/2 c water

Mix the soy sauce, vinegar, pepper, garlic and bay together in a bowl. Pour over chicken legs and allow to marinate, 1 hour minimum up to overnight (the Witch let them go for over 24 hours, the flavors really penetrated the meat and it was delicious). Turn the chicken every 4 hours or so to ensure even marinating.

Heat a large skillet with a lid or a dutch oven over medium high heat. Add the chicken and marinade to the pan, along with 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil then reduce to medium low heat and cover, cooking for about 45 minutes.

Remove lid and increase heat to medium high and allow sauce to reduce some. You will have a LOT of sauce, so don't worry about reducing it too much. Cook about 15 minutes over medium high heat.

Remove bay leaves and serve chicken legs with sauce and rice.

~*~Kitchen Witch NOTE: Personally, I think the sodium count in this inaccurate. The nutritional calculator doesn't understand that the soy sauce used in the marinade makes a LOT of sauce and chances are really good that all the sauce won't be consumed. Please don't let its high number scare you, honestly I'd say the real sodium count should be about 1/3 of that listed~*~
Nutrition Facts provided by SparkPeople recipe calculator
Amount Per Serving
Calories 169.6
Total Fat 4.3 g
Saturated Fat 1.1 g
Polyunsaturated Fat 1.0 g
Monounsaturated Fat 1.3 g
Cholesterol 95.5 mg
Sodium 1,296.1 mg
Potassium 366.1 mg
Total Carbohydrate 4.6 g
Dietary Fiber 0.4 g
Sugars 1.6 g
Protein 27.2 g
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