Chicken and Vegetable Soup!

I’m definitely slowly getting back in the groove of things! On Saturday, as you know, I wasn’t tip top and I figured that on Sunday, I’d go get some chicken and make some nice warm and comforting chicken soup.  Plus, its the best to eat soup in cold freezing temperatures and its been like that for the most part this winter…

I don’t make soups often so excuse the not so awesome appearances.  I’m working on it…

Chicken and Vegatable Soup

This was inspired by a recipe in the Looneyspoons Collection called The Chicken Soup that Flu the Coop 🙂 They always these cute names…

Ingredients

Makes 6 servings

2 tsp olive oil
1 cup each chopped onions, chopped celery and chopped carrots
1 tsp minced garlic
1 1/2 tsp dried thyme
1 tsp dried marjoram
6 cups reduced sodium chicken broth
2 plum tomatoes, chopped
1/4 cup chopped celery leaves
2 bay leaves
1/2 tsp each salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed

1) Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.  Add onions, celery, carrots and garlic.  Cook and stir until vegetables begin to soften, about 5 minutes.  Stir in thyme and marjoram and cook 30 more seconds.  Add broth, tomatoes, celery leaves, bay leaves, salt and pepper.  Bring soup to a boil.  Add whole chicken thighs.  Reduce heat to low and simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.

2) Carefully remove chicken thighs from pot.  When cool enough to handle, cut meat from bone and chop into bite-sized pieces.  Discard bones and return meat to pot.  Remove bay leaves. Serve hot!

Chicken Vegetable Soup

As always, I made some changes to this. Instead of onions, I used shallots.  I had no celery so I used snow peas.  I don’t own any dried thyme or marjoram so after research online, it said that basil leaves and oregano leaves is a good substitute so I used that. Also, if you do use plum tomatoes, your soup will look different from mine.  I ended up using crushed tomatoes.  It was my first time with it and apparently, that looks like pure tomato sauce so I scooped 2 scoops in. I took out celery leaves and bay leaves. Also, I did not use bone in chicken thighs so I didn’t take out the chicken.  Thats why my pieces look gigantic…haha! Silly on my part but it still cooked through and tasted great 🙂

After all the modifications, aside from it looking somewhat like a mess it did taste quite good.  I’m sure if I had celery and the actual spices and tomatoes, it would taste even better.  This one is a keeper for sure.  Loved it a lot and my boyfriend approves as well.

Making this makes me miss the minestrone soup that I haven’t made in ages.  Maybe I’ll do that soon, right after I stock up on some veggies at the grocery store!

What soup do you like to make in the winter? 

Restaurant Review: Olive Garden at Burlington, Vermont

I have heard of this place a lot but I’ve never been before.  Seeing as we were right next to it, it was out destination for dinner.  We had an early dinner and thank goodness we did because our wait was 20-25 minutes whereas people coming in 10 minutes after us were at 40-45 minutes or something like that.  It was crazy intense.  The first thing we know when we walk into this Italian restaurant Olive Garden is a whiff of cheese in the air.

They had a very good deal for 2 for $25 and seeing as we were 4 girls.  We took two of those.  The waitress we had was extremely nice.  Now onto the food.  We each had unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks.  Although only one of us ordered another soup. However, I don`t remember the soup names but I do remember the commentary.

minestrone soup

minestrone soup

In the soups, I had the minestrone.  It was delicious.  Also inspired me to want to add a bit of pasta and beans next time I make my own.  The texture was very nice because of it and it wasn`t too salty.

soup

soup

This is a cream based soup so I couldn`t get it but I don`t remember the exact name.  Two of the girls got this one. One liked it and the other said it was a tad too salty.  Just a taste preference I guess.

breadsticks

breadsticks

Next up, we had the breadsticks.  These are also unlimited. We could get as many as we like. We didn`t though, because we didn`t want to overdo it and not be able to eat our own meals.  I liked the taste of it a lot. I wouldn`t eat to much of it though as it started feeling like it was getting a little salt after a while.  It went great with the soup though 🙂

Now for the appetizer! I only have our own because the sisters chose to share dessert instead.

bruschetta and fried calamari

bruschetta and fried calamari

The fried calamari was the part I ate since I seem to have trouble digesting raw veggies.  Weird, I know.  However, it did well for us to share.  The fried calamari was absolutely tasty and possibly one of the best I have had.  My friend also enjoyed the bruchetta. She didn`t say much about it but there was no criticism either.  I take that as a good thing 😉

venetian apricot chicken

venetian apricot chicken

Sorry for the blurry pictures. I forgot to mention that I was using my new smartphone. Woohoo! I`m not too good at it so I`m still working on getting it right.  This was my main dish: Venetian Apricot Chicken.  Did I tell you how much I like apricot? This chicken was tender and the glaze was different and totally awesome.  I love it!

fettuccine alfredo

fettuccine alfredo

My friend got the Fettuccine Alfredo for her main dish.  It was a really big plate and she finished probably 3/4s of the meal before she had to give up.

five cheese ziti al forno

five cheese ziti al forno

One of the sisters got the same as me while the other one, who is vegetarian chose this Five Cheese Ziti al Forno.  She ate probably a quarter of it and said that she was full.  She felt it was heavy probably because of the cheese.  She ended working hard and finishing a bit more than half, I think.

Next up, we have the desserts! Everyone`s favorite part, right?

2 mini dolcini: chocolate mousse and tiramisu

2 mini dolcini: chocolate mousse and tiramisu

Did I tell you one of the other girls is a baker too? Anyways, she is and she was eating most of it since her sister almost couldn`t stuff any more in after her pasta.  She said that it was average.  However, the tiramisu tasted better than the chocolate mousse.

I was really pleased with the service and the food at Olive Garden. It was super fun to eat at and everyone enjoyed their meals a lot! 🙂 On top of that, their menus showed the calorie counts on the side.  Although calories aren`t really what I had on my mind but seeing the choice to take something healthier really makes it better appeal to the public (in this case, me).

Have you eaten at Olive Garden? What did you like? What do you like to eat at italian restaurants?

Thanksgiving Dinner: Honey Garlic Chicken Thighs

This year, I decided to kick it into gear and make an actual Thanksgiving Dinner for me and my boyfriend.  Every year its tradition for us to go on a hike. This year we did another event (I’ll post it up real soon)  the night before so we took it easy: went out for a little shopping and then came back to prepare for dinner.  Dinner had its problems and some of the food was delayed.  I wasn’t too happy about that but still, my boyfriend was very encouraging and patient with it all.  After all, the food all turned out pretty tasty.

So are you wondering whats on the menu for my Thanksgiving Dinner yet?

Here it is:

Minestrone Soup (as the recipe before, still without turkey and pasta included)

Penne Rigate with Pesto

Oven Baked Turkey Thigh (that was  big one….)

Honey-Garlic Chicken Thighs/Drumsticks (recipe below)

So the star of this post is in fact, the Honey-Garlic Chicken Thighs/Drumsticks.  Originally this recipe is made for Chicken Thighs and to be made on the grill.  However, its too cold for the grill, even if I had one so I just did it in a pan.  Also, I used Chicken Legs so I split it down the middle and had 4 thighs and 4 drumsticks.  Please note that you need to marinate the meat at least 4 hours and preferably overnight so budget your time accordingly.

Here’s the recipe from Looneyspoons Collections by Janet & Greta Podleski:

Recipe name: Honey, I Shrunk My Thighs!

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

12 bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed (about 3lbs/1.4kg)

1/2 cup liquid honey

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

3 tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice

3 tbsp reduced-sodium soya sauce

1 tbsp minced garlic

2 tsp gingerroot

1/2 tsp each ground curry and ground coriander

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

 

Directions:

1) Arrange chicken thighs in a shallow glass dish.  Whisk together all remaning ingredients in a small bowl and pour over chicken.  Turn pieces to coat both sides with marinade.  Cover with plastic wrap and marinate in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours or overnight.

2) Preheat grill to medium setting.  Remove chicken from marinade and place on a grill rack that has been lightly brushed with oil.  Grill thigs for about 10 minutes per side.  Be careful not to burn them.  Serve hot.

Easy, right? I’m starting to really appreciate easy cooking since I’m not that good at it.  This one is awesome. I love learning near marinades for chicken.  I already have one which is similar and I used that one for the turkey this time, adding  a little twist of course.  For this chicken, I also had to make some adjustments to the marinade.  I didn’t have lemons so I couldn’t squeeze fresh juice but I used lemon juice.  I also used normal soya sauce and omitted cayenne pepper.  Everything else remained the same for the marinade.

For the cooking, well, I simmered the chicken in a pan instead of grilling it, for about 20-30 mins on low-medium heat.  It turned out amazing.  My boyfriend is already asking me to do this a second time.  Even though, it turned out that there were little time frame errors and this meal took a bit longer to do.  It was still a nice result. This is a nice little recipe and I do recommend for you to try it out my way.  I’m sure the original will taste awesome too.

Whether you do it in the grill or in the pan, tell me how  it turns out.  Are you going give this a shot eventually one day?