Easy Tortellini Soup

I consider any soup recipe just a starting point, so I hope you will also just consider this recipe your starting point. You can add other vegetables in order to increase the number of servings.  However,  I’m only feeding two adults, so I generally stick with the ingredients listed below.  In the past, I have added frozen green beans or fresh baby spinach leaves with good results.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small red onion, chopped
  • 1 medium yellow squash or zuchini
  • 2 cloves minced garlic
  • 1 (28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 cup vegetable broth
  • 1 tablespoon white sugar
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1/4 cup red wine
  • dash of hot pepper sauce
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 8 oz cheese tortellini
  • fresh grated Parmesan cheese

NIGHT BEFORE

Cook Italian sausage (casings removed) or defrost some from your well-stocked freezer. Chop the onion and squash.

Italian Sausage
Italian Sausage
Chopped onion and yellow squash
Chopped onion and yellow squash
Cooked Italian Sausage
Cooked Italian Sausage

BEFORE SERVING

Saute the onion and squash for a couple of minutes and then add the garlic and saute another minute.

Sautee the Onion and squash
Saute the Onion and squash
Garlic and Garlic Press
Garlic and Garlic Press

Add all the ingredients except the Parmesan cheese and tortellini.

Adding ingredients to the saucepan
Adding ingredients to the saucepan
Stirring ingredients in saucepan
Stirring ingredients in saucepan

Bring everything to a boil.  Add the the tortellini and simmer for 3 minutes.

Cheese tortellini
Cheese tortellini
Tortellini Soup-Vegetarian Option
Tortellini Soup-Vegetarian Option

I keep the broth a little thick because my husband thinks all soup is better if you add a liberal dose of cream.  I let him do this to his own bowl of soup.

Just for Fun!

Mostly, I’m tired and hungry.  However, sometimes, I’m not THAT tired and I just want to have some fun by trying something new in the kitchen.  Since I really love the summer rolls served at Vietnamese restaurants, I decided to try my hand at making some.  I was quite pleased with how they turned out.  Keep in mind that I am a novice, so the photos reflect that.  If you want to see gorgeous summer rolls, you can find plenty of other websites that have very professional photos of professional-looking summer rolls.  Nevertheless, I hope that my novice attempt will encourage you to give it a try just for fun!

The ingredients can vary according to what you have on hand.  The shrimp are part of the aesthetics, but really unnecessary for those who are vegetarian, have shellfish, allergies, or on a tight budget.  The essential ingredients are the fresh herbs–basil, cilantro, and mint.  Also, the peanut dipping sauce is excellent, so you might even consider using it as a dip for a veggie tray. I will list the ingredients I used, but you could also use other fresh garden vegetables like cucumber, or zucchini.

SUMMER ROLL INGREDIENTS

  • fresh basil
  • fresh cilantro
  • fresh mint
  • rice vermicelli
  • cabbage
  • carrots
  • rice paper

Place vermicelli in a bowl. Cover with boiling water and soak for about 3 minutes; then drain.  Chop your herbs and vegetables. Boil water in a tea kettle.

Summer Rolls-ingredients
Summer Rolls-ingredients

Prepare a big working area with rice paper, jelly roll pan (any shallow container wide enough to fit the rice paper in), damp tea towel, stuffing ingredients, and a plate for the finished roll. Carefully, pour the hot water from the tea kettle into the jelly roll pan. Slide a sheet of rice paper under the surface of the hot water and place on the damp tea towel. The rice paper will continue to soften while you put the ingredients on the rice paper.

If you are using shrimp, put that down first.

Summer Roll-before being rolled
Summer Roll-before being rolled

Stack the ingredients about 2-3 inches from the edge you plan to start rolling.

Summer Roll-beginning to roll
Summer Roll-beginning to roll

After you, fold that first edge (left side in the photo), fold the two ends (top and bottom in the photo).  Then, continue to roll.

Finished Summer Roll
Finished Summer Roll

Place on your serving platter bottom side up.  If you used shrimp that means the shrimp side is facing up, giving you that great eye appeal.

Continue making summer rolls until you are either out of ingredients or tired of having that much fun.

Don’t for get the peanut dipping sauce!

PEANUT SAUCE INGREDIENTS

  • 3/4 cup natural style creamy peanut butter
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 3 tablespoons hoisin sauce
  • 3 cloves chopped garlic
  • 2 tablespoons lime juice
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons chili paste
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon toasted sesame seed oil

Put all the ingredients in a food processor and blend until smooth.

Peanut Dipping Sauce
Peanut Dipping Sauce

 

Chicken Tikka Masala

I was a little apprehensive about making this dish because if you say “curry” or “Indian food” to my husband, you will see the two little wrinkles about his nose become deeper.  However, since the name of this dish does not have the word “curry” in it I knew I had an advantage because he wouldn’t recognize the name of this dish as being “Indian food.”  Nevertheless, I knew if he walked in the door and the house smelled like an Indian restaurant, I was stuck eating all of the chicken tikka masala by myself and perhaps even outdoors.  I took no chances and put the slow cooker on the patio table outside.  However, this recipe was a success because my husband asked for seconds.

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken cut in pieces
  • 1 can tomato sauce
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 3 jalapeno peppers, seeded and minced
  • 1 tablespoon minced ginger
  • 1 tablespoon ground cumin
  • 2 teaspoons garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic,  minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 cup plain, non-fat Greek yogurt
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1/4 fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon lemon juice

NIGHT BEFORE

Prepare the chicken, deboning, skinning, and cutting into pieces.

uncooked chicken
uncooked chicken

Remove the seeds and chop your jalapenos. Chop your onion.

chopped onion and jalapenos
chopped onion and jalapenos

Add all ingredients except the yogurt, whipping cream, cilantro and lemon juice to the slow cooker.

Spices for Chicken Tikka Masala
Spices for Chicken Tikka Masala
Chicken Tikka Masala --before cooking
Chicken Tikka Masala –before cooking

Don’t forget to chop your cilantro the night before, even though you won’t add it until the end of the cooking process.

cilantro
cilantro

BEFORE SERVING

Problem–I work a full time job.  That means I will be gone for 9 or 10 hours.  How do I cook in a slow cooker for 6-8 hours instead of 9 or 10?

Solution–Plug your slow cooker into a lamp timer.  If you take the crock full of ingredients out of the refrigerator when you leave, then having the cold ingredients sit on the counter for a couple of hours shouldn’t create any bacteria that won’t be killed after everything is simmering for hours. I got this advise from my friend Darnell who said she’s never killed anyone with that method.  So far, we’ve never suffered from a food-borne illness using the lamp timer method either.

Cook on low for 6-8 hours.

 

Chicken Tikka Masala--Before adding the yogurt, cream, cilantro, and lemon
Chicken Tikka Masala–Before adding the yogurt, cream, cilantro, and lemon juice

Then stir in yogurt, cream, cilantro and lemon juice.Serve over rice.

Chicken Tikka Masala  served over rice
Chicken Tikka Masala served over rice

 

 

Cashew Nut Chicken

My husband claims he is not a picky eater, and I suppose that is true to some extent.  However, I do not consider him an adventurous eater. In fact, when I first met him, he would not eat Chinese food. In college, I would occasionally get a take-out order from one of the Chinese restaurants in town.  I always ordered cashew nut chicken, and I would always offer him some. One time, he said, “You know, that doesn’t smell so bad.”  Finally, he decided he would try it. He liked it.

Since this is a recipe I got from allrecipes.com and have not changed any, I will just let you click on the link below for the full recipe with the ingredients list.

Cashew Chicken with Water Chestnuts

However, I hope will still enjoy my suggestions for how to make this a quicker dinner to prepare by separating it into “Night Before” and “Before Serving” segments.

NIGHT BEFORE

Option 1-Skin, debone, and slice chicken into strips. Stir-fry chicken for a couple of minutes until it is no longer pink

Chicken-skinned and deboned
Chicken-skinned and deboned

Option 2-Take a pound of cooked chicken from your well-stocked freezer and put in your refrigerator to defrost overnight.

Chop your onions and slice the bell pepper.

Onion and Bell Pepper
Onion and Bell Pepper

Mix together the chicken broth, powdered ginger, soy sauce, hot pepper sauce and place in the refrigerator.

BEFORE SERVING

Stir-fry your onions and bell pepper, until the bell pepper is tender. Add the chicken and water chestnuts to the skillet.  Stir the corn starch into your chicken broth mixture and mix into the skillet.  Cook until all ingredients are hot and the sauce has thickened. Top with the cashews and serve over rice.

Cashew Chicken with Water Chestnuts
Cashew Chicken with Water Chestnuts

Quick and Easy Chicken Salad

This is another quick and easy salad that you can make Friday night so you can eat on a busy Saturday for lunch.

INGREDIENTS

  • 2 cups cooked chicken, cubed
  • 1 tablespoon chopped onion
  • 1 tablespoon chopped bell pepper (optional)
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries, chopped apple, or chopped celery
  • 1/4 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/4 teaspoon Greek seasoning

Serves 2-3 people

DIRECTIONS

Put 2 cups of leftover chicken in a bowl.

Leftover Chicken
Leftover Chicken

Add the remaining ingredients.

Chicken Salad--ready to mix up
Chicken Salad–ready to mix up

Mix well. Serve over a bed of your favorite lettuce or spinach leaves.

Chicken Salad on a bed of iceberg lettuce
Chicken Salad on a bed of iceberg lettuce