Tomato Basil Soup

Oh man, this soup is so glorious and rich. It does take a fair amount of time and cream (probably one of the reasons it’s so delicious), so we’ll often look for cream to go on clearance and then freeze it for making this soup or ice cream in the future. This soup is adapted from a deli recipe at Harmons, so get out your scale for this recipe. I’m so glad the deli director at Harmons was always happy to share any recipe you’d ask for, because everything that Harmons makes is so amazing. I did adapt it to make it a little easier and cheaper for certain ingredients, and to add chicken and pasta. This soup is fantastic when served in a bread bowl or with bread in general–dip your bread in it. Or grilled cheese. Delicious. (Also try the Jalapeno Cheddar Soup recipe adapted from Harmons.)

You can add chicken and/or tortellini to the soup, which we usually do. Take note that this soup does require an immersion blender (unless you make a tiny batch and blend it up in your regular blender). We usually make a giant batch and freeze leftovers in gallon bags, so it always takes longer to make than I think. But it’s so worth it. And it’s wonderful to have in the freezer for an easy meal or in case a friend is sick and needs a quick meal.

*I learned last time I made it that it fills about half the huge stock pot. You can double all the ingredients except the chicken and tortellini if you want more “soup”. This recipe had lots of chicken and tiny raviolis when I made it last, so I might double the soup portion next time–I think I remember doubling this recipe but having the recipe’s amount of chicken and tortellini. I remember buying a 3 lb bag of onions because by the time you peel them, it’s about 2 lbs of onions.

If you’re making this gluten free, just don’t add the tortellini. You could potentially cook some gluten free pasta separately and put it in the bottom of each person’s bowl before adding the soup. But it’s pretty great as it is.

Tomato Basil Soup

  • Servings: 30?
  • Difficulty: medium-hard
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We make this giant batch and freeze leftovers in gallon bags for amazing, easy meals.

Ingredients

  • 6 lbs. + Chicken Breasts, cubed (optional) (like a pack of fresh chicken breasts from Sam’s Club)
  • 1/4 c. Olive Oil
  • 1 lb. Yellow Onions, diced
  • 1 oz. Garlic, minced
  • 1 oz. Salt
  • 0.3 oz. Ground Black Pepper
  • 3 c. Water
  • 1 lb. 8 oz. (24 oz.) Fresh Tomato, 1/2″ dice
  • 6 lbs 6 oz (102 oz.) can Diced Tomato (I’ve also sliced whole tomatoes after Sam’s Club stopped carrying the large diced can–but you’ll puree it all anyway)
  • 2 lbs. 8 oz. (1 qt. + 1 c.) Heavy Cream 
  • 16 oz. shredded Italian Cheese 
  • 1/2 c.+ Parmesan (like the cheap powdered parmesan)
  • 0.375+ oz. dried Basil
  • 40-60 oz. Frozen Tortellini (optional)

Directions

In a very large stock pot, cook the chicken breasts, then remove and place in a bowl. Then heat oil over medium heat. Saute garlic, onions, salt, and pepper until translucent. Add water, fresh tomatoes, and canned tomatoes. Bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer, cooking for 40 minutes or until thickened. Add cream, cheeses, and dried basil. Puree with a stick blender. Add more cheese, salt, or basil to taste–I often add more of all–but remember that the basil flavor will get stronger as it sits. Add chicken and tortellini at end to heat through before serving.


 

Schnitzel

Haha, I think because of the restaurant Wienerschnitzel, people think schnitzel is going to be some sort of hot dog or sausage. I didn’t know what it was until my mission in Germany and Austria, then I had a lot of great schnitzel. I learned that schnitzel is really a breaded, fried cutlet of meat. “Schnitzel” kind of translates to small cut–like a cutlet. It’s reminiscent of chicken fried steak, made with either pork, chicken, or veal, depending on the geography. It’s not very flavorful, but it’s still a fun meal. This recipe is adapted from daringgourmet.com–she has lots of delicious German recipes.

I remember in Vienna, there was a restaurant that the missionaries called Herb’s–but it was really called Schnitzelwirt. It was like a rite of passage for an elder to finish the giant Wienerschnitzel and all the accompanying fries. I’m pretty sure I also did it–and I went back there with my mom when we went to visit. Traditionally schnitzel is served with fries and a lemon wedge–or maybe with potato salad.

If you’re making this gluten free, I have now made it with corn starch and Corn Chex crumbs–that’s the one in the photo. It turned out great, and I think I’ve heard that corn starch coatings make stuff nice and crisp.

Schnitzel

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
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Serve with fries and a lemon wedge, for a wonderful German/Austrian meal.

Ingredients

  • 4 boneless Pork Steaks or Chops (you can also use chicken or veal)
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1/2 c. Flour combined with 1 tsp. salt (or gluten free flour or cornstarch)
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 3/4 cup plain breadcrumbs (or gluten free breadcrumbs or Corn Chex crumbs)
  • Oil for frying
  • Lemon wedges (optional)

Directions

Place the chops under plastic wrap and pound until they’re 1/4″ thick. Lightly season both sides with salt and pepper. Place the flour mixture, egg, and breadcrumbs in 3 separate shallow bowls. Dip the chops in the flour, then the egg, and then the breadcrumbs, coating both sides and all edges at each stage. Be careful not to press the breadcrumbs into the meat. Gently shake off the excess crumbs. Don’t let the schnitzel sit in the coating or they will not be as crispy once fried – fry immediately.
Make sure the cooking oil is hot enough at this point (about 330 degrees F) as you don’t want the Schnitzel to sit around in the coating before frying. Use enough oil so that the Schnitzels “swim” in it.
Fry the Schnitzel for about 2-3 minutes on both sides until a deep golden brown. Transfer briefly to a plate lined with paper towels. Optional: Squeeze a lemon wedge all over the schnitzel before eating.

 


 

Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadillas

Jeff and I had our first date at Chili’s, so it’s always had a special place in my heart. I used to love getting their quesadilla explosion salad before I found out I have celiac. One day for a date night, I looked up ideas of how to make those quesadillas, stuffed with cheese, chicken, bacon, and ranch. I didn’t find an exact copy, but I’m quite happy with how these turned out, and we’ve had them a lot. They’re pretty easy if you’ve got pre-cooked chicken (such as from rotisserie chicken) and bacon. And Chili’s would serve them with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and sour cream, so that’s what we try to do if we can.

If you’re making this gluten free, just use corn tortillas and make yours either in a separate pan or make yours first before making any with flour tortillas.

Chicken Bacon Ranch Quesadillas

  • Servings: 6?
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Chili’s flavors, delicious with shredded lettuce, pico, and sour cream.

Ingredients

  • 1 pkg. Bacon, cut into pieces with scissors
  • 1-1.5 lbs. Chicken Breasts, sliced thin or Rotisserie Chicken pieces
  • Taco Seasoning to taste (optional)
  • Flour or Corn Tortillas
  • Shredded Cheddar or Mexican Cheese
  • Ranch Dressing
  • Optional: Shredded lettuce, pico de gallo or salsa, sour cream

Directions

In a heavy frying pan, cook the bacon pieces until crisp and then place on a paper towel lined plate. Remove the grease, then cook the chicken on high heat, adding taco seasoning to taste. Set chicken aside in a bowl. Wipe out the pan, then cook one side of two tortillas (or alternately you can use one tortilla to make a quesadilla, but fold it in half). When the tortillas are crisp but not dark, flip one over and set one aside. Place a handful of cheese on the one in the pan, then squirt ranch dressing in a spiral on top of the cheese. Add several chunks of chicken, then sprinkle bacon pieces over top. Sprinkle another handful of cheese over all, then place the reserved tortilla with the uncooked side up. Then carefully flip the whole thing so the uncooked side of the tortilla cooks. When the quesadilla is done, place on a cutting board and cut into four pieces. Serve with shredded lettuce, pico de gallo, and sour cream.

 


 

Country Fried Chicken

Jeff prefers chicken without bones, so I searched out a country fried chicken recipe and found this one on favfamilyrecipes.com. I’ve made it several times, and it’s great. The breading does often fall off while you’re eating it. But it’s delicious. The gravy is also very good, but you need to incorporate every bit of brown that you can get out of the oil so that it has the most flavor. It takes a lot of time, but it’s nice to make every once in a while.

If you’re making this gluten free, of course just switch out the flour for gluten free flour. It turns out delicious. The picture below is gluten free. I’ve even made it dairy free by adding 2 Tbsp. lemon juice to 2 c. almond milk for the buttermilk and using almond milk in the gravy.

Country Fried Chicken

  • Servings: 8
  • Difficulty: medium-hard
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Very delicious, but it takes a fair amount of time and milk.

Ingredients

  • 4 Chicken Breasts, halved
  • 2 c. Buttermilk (or 2 c. milk + 2 Tbsp. lemon juice)
  • 3 Eggs
  • 1/2 c. Milk
  • 2 c. Flour (or gluten free flour with xanthan gum)
  • 1 Tbsp. Paprika
  • 1/2 tsp. Cayenne Pepper
  • 1/2 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Oil for frying

Gravy

  •  1/4 c. Reserved Pan Drippings (get every bit of brown that you can)
  • 1/4 c. Reserved Flour Mixture
  • 2 c. Chicken Broth or Stock (or 2 tsp. Members Mark Chicken Base and 2 c. water)
  • 1/2 c. Milk
  • Salt and Pepper to taste

Directions

Carefully pound each chicken breast half flat without tearing, with each chicken piece about the size of your hand or slightly smaller. Place chicken in a gallon bag and pour buttermilk over. Press as much air as you can out of the bag, seal, and place in refrigerator for at least 3 hours (or overnight).

In a shallow dish, whisk together eggs and milk, set aside. In a separate shallow dish, stir flour, paprika, cayenne, garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Set aside about 1/4 c. of this dry mixture for the gravy later.

Remove chicken from Ziploc, shake off excess buttermilk, and dredge each piece evenly with four mixture. Lightly shake off excess, dip in egg/milk mixture, then place back in flour mixture, giving it a double coating of flour. Place chicken on a cookie sheet until ready to fry.

Preheat 1/4 inch of oil in electric skillet until reaches 350. Add each piece of chicken to the oil without overcrowding (you may have to do this in batches) for about 3-4 minutes on each side or until crispy and golden. Place cooked chicken on a cooling rack on top of a baking sheet to catch excess oil. Place in warm oven (about 200-degrees) until ready to serve.

For gravy: Drain off all but about 1/4 c. of the oil from the pan. Whisk reserved flour mixture into the oil until the flour has absorbed the oil. Slowly whisk in the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Whisk constantly and reduce heat to a simmer. Once the gravy starts to thicken, slowly add milk (you may not need all of it) to thin to desired consistency, whisking constantly. Add salt and pepper to taste. Serve over chicken and mashed potatoes.

 


Sweet Pork

This sweet pork comes from Mel’s Kitchen Cafe, and is a lot like Cafe Rio’s. It’s amazing, and we’ve made it for several large group events and birthday parties. Plus, pork shoulder is often on sale for 99 cents, so the meat is surprisingly cheap (although the sauces make it more costly).

It makes a lot, and we usually freeze the leftovers in quart bags to use in the future. You can use the sweet pork to make into sweet pork burritos with seasoned black beans and cilantro lime rice, or into sweet pork salad with the beans, cilantro lime rice, pico de gallo, and jalapeno ranch dressing.

And luckily this one is naturally gluten free.

Sweet Pork

  • Servings: A LOT
  • Difficulty: medium
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Great for big gatherings, and it freezes well.

Ingredients

Seasoning

  •  1 Tbsp. cumin
  •  1 Tbsp. Paprika
  •  1 Tbsp. Onion Powder
  •  1 Tbsp. Chili Powder
  •  1 Tbsp. Garlic Powder
  •  2 tsp. Salt
  •  1/2 tsp. Black Pepper

Pork

  •  3-5 lbs. Pork Shoulder (or boneless sirloin pork roast, but it’s not as good)
  •  1 c. Root Beer or Cola
  •  1 c. Green Salsa (aka salsa verde. Herdez is great, but use Mild–medium is surprisingly hot)

Sauce

    •  2 c. Red Enchilada Sauce (Rosarita is good)
    •  1/2 c. Brown Sugar
    •  8 oz. Chopped Green Chiles
    •  1 c. Green Salsa

Directions

For seasoning: Combine all the seasoning ingredients together in a small bowl. Measure out 2 Tbsp. of the mixture and save for later. Cut the pork roast into large chunks (4-6 inches) and rub the remaining seasoning mixture (not the reserved 2 Tbsp.) evenly over all sides of the pork.

For pork: Add the soda and green salsa to the slow cooker. Stir to combine. Add the seasoned pork. Cover and cook on low for 8-9 hours or high for 5-6 hours until tender. Transfer the pork to a cutting board or pan and shred. Discard all but 1/2 cup of the cooking liquid in the slow cooker, then add the shredded pork back.

For sauce: To the pork in the slow cooker, add the 2 tablespoons of reserved spices and the rest of the sauce ingredients, then stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for 15-20 minutes until heated through.


Pork Ribs

Man, pork ribs are amazing when they’re so tender that they fall off the bone. This recipe is very simple but very delicious–haha, and not very specific in terms of measurements. Of course these can be a little greasy, so you may want to serve it with something light.

And luckily this one is naturally gluten free as long as the rub and BBQ sauce don’t have gluten (which most don’t have gluten anyway). Also, you may want to use a dedicated gluten free brush when you’re brushing on the sauce, since gluten can be trapped in the bristles.

Pork Ribs

  • Servings: varies
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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Amazing, especially when tender.

Ingredients

  • Pork Back Ribs
  • Rib Rub (like Famous Dave’s)
  • BBQ Sauce

Directions

Using a knife or spoon, pull the silver skin off the ribs. Rub a small amount of rib rub all over (not too much or it will be overwhelming), then wrap the ribs in foil and cook at 275° for 4 hours or until tender. Then remove at least the top layer of foil (carefully–there may be lots of hot juice), brush on BBQ sauce, and broil or grill for a few minutes until the sauce caramelizes.


Easy Chicken Parmesan

This comes from a recipe book that Jeff’s Mom put together, so I like to think of it as Grandma Marilyn Mitchell’s recipe–except I may have added a little more parmesan cheese. I love it so much. It’s easy, we basically always have the ingredients, it’s delicious, and it’s healthier than breaded chicken parmesan. In fact, I even prefer the flavor to breaded chicken parmesan. Also, this calls for parmesan cheese–don’t bother with the fancy shredded kind. The regular powdered Kraft kind works great.

Depending how thick the chicken is, if it’s still slightly frozen when you put it in the oven, or if you have lots of chicken in the pan, it generally takes 40-55 minutes. So of course check for doneness by checking for an internal temperature of 165°.

And luckily this one is naturally gluten free. I’ve also made it with dairy-free cheese instead of mozzarella on top, and it’s still delicious.

Easy Chicken Parmesan

  • Servings: 6
  • Difficulty: easy
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Great for weeknight meals or special occasions.

Ingredients

  • 1 jar Pasta Sauce
  • 1/2 c. + Parmesan Cheese
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 3 Chicken Breasts, cut in half to make 6 (about 1 1/2 lb.)
  • 1 1/2. c. Mozzarella Cheese

Directions

Pour sauce into a greased 9×13″ pan. Stir in 6 Tbsp. parmesan cheese. Lightly salt and pepper the chicken breasts. Add the chicken to the sauce and turn over to coat both sides. Top with mozzarella and remaining parmesan cheese. Bake at 375° for 40-55 minutes or until the chicken’s internal temperature reaches 165° and the cheese is melted and slightly brown. Serve over pasta.


Pizza Dough

This is from Bobby Flay’s recipe, just with a few clarifications and more info. It’s one of Food Network’s most popular recipes. You can make it with bread flour or all purpose flour. We usually opt for the all purpose flour because it’s cheaper and is still great. The longer you can give this dough to rise, the softer and fluffier it will be. I generally start making the dough 3-4 hours before we want to eat, so there will be plenty of time to rise.

It’s a fun activity for a date night, family cooking, or even holidays, especially when you toss the dough in the air. We’ve had a few times when we’ve made individual pizzas with our guests, so they can put on whatever toppings they’d like.

If you’re making this gluten free, I find that any bread-based recipe will not translate well–because gluten is so integral to the rise and structure of bread. And because gluten free dough ends up being like Play Doh or frosting after you mix it. So you’ll want to use a different recipe like this one.

Pizza Dough

  • Servings: 2 pizzas
  • Difficulty: easy-medium
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You can use bread or all-purpose flour for this great dough.

Ingredients

  • 3 1/2 c. Flour (plus more for rolling)
  • 1 tsp. Sugar
  • 1 envelope Instant Dry Yeast
  • 2 tsp. Salt
  • 1 1/2 c. Water, 110 degrees
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil (plus 2 tsp. for oiling the bowl)

Directions

Fit a stand mixer with a bread hook, then combine flour, sugar, yeast, and salt in the bowl to combine. While the mixer is running on low speed, add water and 2 Tbsp. oil until dough forms into a ball. Then beat 5 minutes on medium speed to help form gluten. (If the dough is too sticky, add flour. If it’s too dry, add water.) Scrape the dough out of the bowl onto a floured surface and knead into a ball.

Grease a large bowl with the remaining oil, add the dough, and cover the bowl with plastic wrap. Place in a warm area to double in size (longer is better–I generally like at least 2 hours). Then turn out onto a floured surface and divide in half. Cover and let rest for at least 10 minutes (I generally opt for 30 minutes).

Toss or roll out the dough and top with sauce, cheese, and toppings as desired. Bake on a preheated pizza stone at 450 for at least 15 minutes until the crust is golden brown underneath.


Fish and Chips Batter

I think this was originally a copycat for Long John Silver’s fish and chips batter. I’m not sure if really does taste like a copycat because I think I’ve only eaten there once in my life, but it’s a great recipe. It’s flaky and crisp like a fish and chips coating should be–flakier than say a soft sweet and sour chicken breading. Although, I have used this to make sweet and sour chicken as well, and it’s still delicious.

Make sure to use a nice white fish–I generally use cod–and squeeze the extra water out of the fish before dipping so the coating will adhere nicely to the fish. Otherwise it can get gooey and come off easily after it’s cooked. Also, if you’re frying fries to go with your fish, you’ll probably want to do those before frying the fish so the oil doesn’t taste fishy for your fries or have pieces of fish stuck to the fryer basket.

If you’re making this gluten free, all you need to do is use gluten free flour. I’ve made it a few times, and it’s delicious–I can’t tell that it’s gluten free. Note that gluten free stuff often doesn’t get as dark golden brown as regular, so you may want to cook it a little more “blonde” than usual so the fish doesn’t shrink and overcook. The recipe picture is gluten free.

Fish and Chips Batter

  • Servings: 3
  • Difficulty: medium
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Make sure to use a nice white fish and dry it before coating.

Ingredients

  • Oil for frying
  • Salt and Pepper to taste
  • 3-4 Frozen Cod filets, thawed
  • 3/4 c. Flour (or gluten free flour with xanthan gum)
  • 2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
  • 1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
  • 1/4 tsp. Salt
  • 3/4 c. Water

Directions

(Fry your fries before your fish so the oil doesn’t taste fishy. To thaw the cod, place it in a water bath in the wrappers for 30 minutes.) Preheat oil in deep fryer around 350. On a cutting board, place paper towels below and on top of cod filets, then gently press out as much extra water as you can. Lightly salt and pepper the fish, then cut the filets into chunks for frying (generally 4 or so per filet). In a medium bowl, whisk together the rest of the ingredients to form the batter. When the oil is heated, place the fish chunks in the batter to coat. Using tongs, drop the fish in the oil. You may want to hold onto each chunk and let it cook for a few seconds before dropping, just so the batter doesn’t cook into the basket and get stuck. Cook fish until the coating is golden brown, generally 3-5 minutes. Serve with fries and tartar sauce.


Chicken Gyros

We’ve made these several times, and they’re delicious. Especially with warm pitas. But I wouldn’t mind trying a new gyro recipe. If I find a new recipe that’s even better, I’ll update.

If you’re making this gluten free, you’ll need to find a substitute for pitas. I haven’t found gluten free pitas in my grocery store, but you could probably try making some. I’ve used gluten free tortillas and made it a wrap, but it wasn’t so great. I’ve made gluten free naan before, which was delicious and may make a good substitute. Even just a warmed up piece of gluten free bread works fairly well.

Chicken Gyros

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: medium
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Make the tzatziki first so the flavors can meld, then do everything else.

Ingredients

Tzatziki

  • 1/2 c. Plain Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 Cucumber, peeled and seeded
  • 2 tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 1 tsp. Lemon Juice
  • Salt and pepper to taste (need a fair amount)
  • Drizzle of olive oil

Marinade

  • 2 tsp. Minced Garlic
  • 2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Oregano
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 lb. Chicken Breasts, cubed

Toppings and Bread

  • 1 Tomato, diced
  • 1/2 Red Onion, sliced thin
  • 1/2 Cucumber, diced
  • 3-4 Pitas (or gluten free bread)

Directions

For the tzatziki: Chop the cucumber in large chunks and place in blender with a little water. Blend until smooth, then pour the liquid through a paper towel and squeeze to remove as much water as possible. Place the remaining cucumber pulp from the towel in a bowl and mix with the rest of the tzatziki ingredients. Adjust flavors as needed. Refrigerate at least 30 minutes so flavors can meld.

For the marinade/chicken: Mix all marinade ingredients and chicken together in a Ziplock bag and let marinate for a few minutes while you chop the rest of the vegetables for the toppings. Once everything is chopped, heat a heavy frying pan over high heat, then add chicken and cook until it’s done, about 7 minutes or so. Warm the pitas in the microwave for about 30 seconds.

Assembling the gyro: Place a warm pita on a plate, then spoon chicken down the middle. Top with tzatziki, tomatoes, onion, and cucumber. You can either wrap it up or fold it slightly and eat like a taco.