Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Chicken Tortellini Cream Soup: a Simple Post-holiday Meal

Well, the holidays are ending and the normal routines of work and home are just around the corner. Looking back on the last week or two, I think I hit a record high with regard to the post-holiday exhaustion. So in the last few days, I have been thinking about how I can make next Christmas just as special for my family without almost killing myself. Yeah well... we shall see how that goes next year.

In the meantime, I am detoxing from the holidays by keeping it simple, and that includes food. A great, simple meal I have now made twice is a chicken torellini soup that is put together with just a few prepared foods but tastes like it is completely from scratch. In actuality, it was a turkey tortellini soup the first time around, with leftover Thanksgiving turkey. But this recent version was made with rotisserie chicken from the grocery store which makes it easy to do any time of the year. I truly believe that some of the best recipes are made with the fewest ingredients, and this is no exception. Ingredient list: rotisserie chicken, olive oil, garlic, leeks, tortellini, chicken broth and cream. So easy and delicious! Wegmans (the best grocery store on the planet) sells a fresh whole wheat three cheese torellini that is to die for, but you can use any tortellini or mini ravioli in this recipe. You can also lighten this recipe up by using fat free half and half instead of the heavy cream, but the cream makes this soup so rich... to me, it's worth the extra fat.

You can whip this soup up quickly on a busy work night and it will seem like you have slaved for hours. And the best thing for the three of us, is that it makes plenty to have again the next day.

Chicken Tortellini Cream Soup

2 T olive oil
1 cup chopped leeks
2 garlic cloves, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 rotisserie chicken, meat cut into cubes
1 pkg. fresh tortellini (if using dried, pre-cook and add last)
1/2 to 2/3 cup heavy cream
sea salt and freshly ground pepper
parmesan or pecorino Romano cheese (topping)

Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven and saute leeks and garlic until soft. Add chicken stock, chicken and tortellini and cook without boiling until totellini is al dente. Stir in desired amount of cream and heat through. Season with salt and pepper. Top each individual bowl with grated cheese.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Feta Issue

I have had a recipe for Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta taped to my recipe book for the longest time. Every time I spot it as my fingers flip through the pages of the food-stained gingham spiral notebook, my mouth starts to water. It's one of Food Network's Ellie Krieger's recipes, so I know it is certain to be healthy and delicious. So why had I not tried in in the four years it had graced the pages of my book? It's the feta.

Tim and I have very compatible tastes, but there are a few foods he doesn't really care for. Feta, that wonderful crumbly, "bitey" cheese is one of them. He finds it dry and tasteless. So there the recipe sat, until I came up with an idea to modify it. Why not change the feta to fresh mozzarella and have an Italian baked shrimp and tomatoes? We both fell in love with it. Delicious, quick and easy! I will definitely be making this again. The original recipe calls for fresh dill but I would recommend substituting basil in the Italian version. Both variations will be posted here. Since there is quite a bit of sauce, I would also recommend serving it over some type of grain. As you see in the picture above, I threw in some whole wheat Israeli couscous which was perfect.

And now my mouth is watering remembering the taste of it, not just the title of the recipe. I guess we'll have to have it again this week!

Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes and Feta (Ellie Krieger)
1 T olie oil
1 medium onion, diced (about 1 1/2 cups)
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 (14.oz) cans no-salt diced tomatoes with their juices (I use San Marzano tomatoes and cut them up myself)
1/4 cup finely minced fresh flat leaf parsley
1 T finely minced fresh dill
1 1/4 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup crumbled feta cheese

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat oil in oven proof skillet over med-high heat. Add the onion and cook stirring until softened about 3 min. Add garlic and cook 1 min. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to med-low and let simmer for about 5 min. until the tomato juices thicken.
Remove from heat. Stir in parley, dill and shrimp and season with salt and peoper. Sprinkle feta over top. Bake until shrimp are cooked through and cheese melts about 12 minutes.

Italian Baked Shrimp with Tomatoes
Follow directions above substituting basil for the dill and fresh mozzarella cheese for the feta.