Chicken Pumpkin Soup

Pumpkin Chicken Soup

As mentioned in a previous article, January is National Soup Day. Therefore, I’m posting one last soup recipe: Chicken Pumpkin Soup. This is a reprint from 2018, but the dish is so tasty I think it’s worth another look.

CHICKEN PUMPKIN SOUP (2-3 servings)

  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup carrot, chopped
  • 1 pound cubed uncooked skinless and boneless chicken breast, cut into 1″ cubes. *
  • 1 cup (3 stalks) chopped celery, chopped
  • 1/2 cup medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1   15 ounce can of solid packed pumpkin
  • 1   15 ounce can chicken broth
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, warmed to room temperature
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • Juice of one lemon

1. In a large saucepan, heat the vegetable oil.

2.Add the next five ingredients and saute for five minutes.

3.Add everything else, except for the lemon juice, and mix well.

4.Heat until the mixture is bubbling. Lower to simmer, and cook for 20 minutes.

This dish is good with cornbread. It reheats well using the heating devices I have previously mentioned. (See “Equipment and Gadgets” under “Menu” section.)

*You can also use cubed pre-cooked chicken or turkey. Do not saute as in Step 2. Instead, add the meat at Step 4.

Whole Wheat Ramen Soup

I recently discovered that January is unofficially National Soup Month. How appropriate that practically all my posts this month have concerned soup! And today won’t be any different, as I’ll be offering a whole-wheat ramen soup recipe.

I grew up eating Top Ramen soups for lunch, dinner, and snacks. It’s really tasty stuff, and economical too. Unfortunately, the product does not offer much in terms of protein or fiber.

So I was delighted to find a protein-rich ramen product at my local World Wide Market (also known as Cost Plus).

Hakubaku Organic Ramen

The whole-wheat product you see here contains 9 grams of protein per 3.5 oz. serving. In addition, it contains 3 grams of fiber. The company also makes organic udon (thick noodles) and soma (very thin noodles used in cold Asian-style salad).

Here’s what I made with the ramen:

ORGANIC RAMEN SOUP (1-2 servings)

  • One 15 oz. can chicken broth (I used chicken bone broth, which provides additional protein)
  • One bunch baby bok choy, chopped
  • One bunch green onion, chopped
  • 3.5 oz. Hakubaku Organic Ramen *
  • 1/2 tsp. sesame oil
  • Soy sauce to taste
  • Two hard boiled eggs, sliced (optional)

1.Place broth and vegetables in a saucepan and bring to a boil.

2.Add ramen. Bring to a simmer, cover, and cook for 4 minutes.

3.Add sesame oil, and soy sauce to taste. Garnish with hard boiled egg.

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The noodles are a little chewier than regular ramen, but they taste good. This dish can be placed in frig and re-heated in a microwave or any other devices mentioned on this blog. In addition, it stays hot in a metal thermos.

*Hakubaku Organic Ramen can be purchased at the World Wide Market and on amazon.com. I also noted that it is sold through Whole Foods. If you have trouble obtaining this product, substitute 3.5 oz. Barilla ProteinPLUS Thin Spaghetti, which can be purchased at most supermarkets. Like the ramen, this product is also protein-rich and contains 7 grams of fiber per 3.5 oz. serving. You will need to boil the Barilla pasta for 10 minutes until done. I would suggest bring the spaghetti to a boil and cooking it for 5 minutes. Then add the vegetables, bring to a boil again, and cook for 5 more minutes.

Making Soup Out of Salad

Cabbage and Kale Salad Soup

I recently went to Walmart in search of a healthy salad to offset the fatty holiday fare I’d eaten. But it was a cold day, and none of the selections looked especially inviting to me. Suddenly, I got a bright idea……

Bagged salad

CABBAGE AND KALE SALAD SOUP (3-4 servings)

  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1 bag of Walmart’s Market Side Sunflower Bacon Crunch Salad (only use the vegetables, which include green cabbage, romaine lettuce, kale, red cabbage, carrots, green onions)
  • 1 medium sweet videlia onion, chopped
  • 1 bunch fresh dill, minced
  • 2 tablespoons dried celery flakes
  • 2 tsp. Lawry’s seasoned salt
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 4 cups water

1.Melt the butter in a large saucepan. Add the vege’s from the salad bag and the chopped onion. Do NOT add the salad dressing, bacon crumbles, or sunflower seeds!

2.Saute the vege mix and onion for about 5 minutes.

3.Place the vege’s and onion in a crockpot. Add dill, celery flakes, salt, bay leaf, and water.

4.Cover and cook on High for 3 hours.

5.Remove the bay leaf. Puree the mixture using a food processor or hand immersion blender.*

The butter gave my soup a rich flavor. I added a little extra salt, but you might not want to do so. This soup freezes well and can be heated at work using a microwave or one of the portable devices I have previously recommended. (Check out the “Menu” for this blog and look under “Equipment and Gadgets.”)

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*Several months ago, I purchased a Cuisinart immersible hand blender from amazon.com. It cost about $50, and was worth the money. The device has a detachable blade and is much easier to clean than the traditional blender or food processor. You just stick the blade end into the cooking vessel, push the button, and the device does its work within a minute. I will be demonstrating the usefulness of the blender in future articles.

Cottage Cheese Salad

Cottage cheese salad

During the last several decades, cottage cheese took a backseat to the exotic yogurt products that sprang up in supermarket dairy sections. A pity. Cottage cheese is tasty, full of protein and calcium, and it takes absolutely no time to prepare.

Instead of just plopping a scoop of cottage cheese in a bowl, try adding flavor and texture using this recipe, created by my husband, Peter.

COTTAGE CHEESE SALAD (1 serving)

  • One cup cottage cheese
  • One medium vine-ripe tomato, sliced
  • One tablespoon bottled balsamic vinegar
  • One tablespoon chopped green onions
  • One tablespoon packaged bacon bits (found in the bottled dressing section)

1.Slice tomato and place in a plastic lunchpail container. Drizzle with one and a half teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

2.Place the cottage cheese on top of the tomato. Drizzle the rest of the balsamic vinegar over the cottage cheese.

3.Sprinkle with green onions and bacon bits. (For vegetarians, substitute one tablespoon low-fat feta cheese for the bacon bits.)

4.Cover container and place in frig overnight for a tasty brown bag lunch!

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This salad works as a main or side dish. Delicious with crackers. Great on a hot day when you don’t feel like cooking. In addition to tomatoes, try adding canned asparagus and/or drained canned kidney beans for more color and flavor.

Recipe: Chicken Adobo

Chicken adobo with white rice that I cooked last night

Chicken adobo, a classic Filipino dish, consists of chicken simmered in a mixture of vinegar and soy sauce. It is easy to make and reheats well. Perfect for a brown bag lunch, along with a salad. If you do not have a microwave at your workplace, please check the menu on this blog and look up the “Equipment and Gadgets” category. There you will find descriptions of portable heating devices. I would recommend both the Crockpot Lunch Warmer and Hotlogic thermal bag for reheating this dish.

Here’s a recipe that I tried just yesterday. It turned out great!

CHICKEN ADOBO (6 servings)

  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 1/2 cup distilled white vinegar
  • 6 cloves garlic, smashed with the side of a knife and peeled
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 6 skin-on bone-in chicken thighs

1.Place the soy sauce, vinegar, garlic, black peppercorns, and bay leaves in a large saute pan. Place the chicken thighs, skin side down, into the pan. Bring the liquid to a boil over high heat, and then cover and simmer over low heat for 20 minutes. Turn the chicken over, and then cover and simmer for another 10 minutes.

2.Uncover the pan, and then increase the heat to high and return the sauce to a boil. While occasionally turning and basting the chicken, continue boiling the sauce, uncovered, until it is reduced by half and thickens slightly, 5-7 minutes. Serve with steamed white rice.

The site from which I obtained this recipe indicates 332 calories per serving. (Not counting the rice.)

Reference: https://rasamalaysia.com/classic-chicken-adobo-recipe/

Lentil and Beet Salad

For those of you who have access to a Trader Joe’s, here’s a nutritious and delicious item that you only have to assemble to enjoy. You will find the ingredients in the produce and cheese section of the store. The dish is great as a vegetarian entrée, or as a side dish for a meat entrée. It’s ideal as a brown bag item.

I should mention that I obtained this recipe from Celine Cossou-Bordes’ excellent book, “Cooking with Trader Joe’s.” (I have substituted low-fat feta for her recommended full-fat goat cheese. Also, bottled vinaigrette to save prep time.) You can buy Coussou-Bordes’ book on amazon.com.

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LENTIL & BEET SALAD (4 Servings)

  • One pkg TJ’s refrigerated Steamed Lentils
  • 6 pearl tomatoes, cut in wedges
  • One pkg TJ’S refrigerated Steamed and Peeled Baby Beets
  • 6 oz. low-fat feta cheese, crumbles
  • 3 oz. bottled vinaigrette dressing
  1. Place lentils in a medium bowl and heat in microwave for 3 minutes. Stir in tomatoes and beets.
  2. Pour vinaigrette over lentil mixture, stir to combine, then sprinkle with feta cheese crumbles.
  3. Refrigerate.

A Tasty Rice Snack: Onigiri

Rice balls (onigiri) made with Annie Chun’s Sprouted Brown Rice

It’s mid-August in California, and the temperature has been pretty high. So my appetite runs towards something cool and a little salty. How about some home-made onigiri?

According to Wikipedia, Onigiri (or omusabi) is a rice ball made from white rice which is formed into a triangular or cylindrical shape. It can be filled with pickled plum, salmon, tuna salad, or any other salty or sour ingredient. The dish is eaten at room temperature or cooled. It is ideal as a brown bag side dish.

Onigiri is usually made with top-grade sushi rice. (Please see my post titled, “Let’s Here It For Haiga,” dated March 13, 2019.) However, in this blog I will share a recipe using Annie Chun Sprouted Brown Rice, which can be microwaved. It makes the process much easier for those who don’t have much prep time. You can find Annie Chun rice in the Asian section of your grocery store. You might even find it in the rice/grain/bean section. I bought my last batch at Sprouts Market.

Please see the nutritional data for the sprouted rice below. The product is vegan, gluten-free, sugar-free, and contains more protein and fiber than most sushi rice.

I’m going to deviate somewhat from the classic ingredients for this dish in that I will add rice wine vinegar instead of salt. I just think it tastes better.

For additional flavor, I recommend Furikake Shredded Shrimp (Nori ebi) with toasted sesame seed and nori (minced dried seaweed). You can purchase this product at your local Asian grocery store or the Asian section of your supermarket. You can also purchase it on amazon.com using this address: https://www.amazon.com/Seaweed-Shrimp-Furikake-Seasoning-Product/dp/B07NPCK6R3/ref=sr_1_3?keywords=Urashima%2Bfurikake%2Bnori%2Bebi&qid=1566684022&s=gateway&sr=8-3&th=1. If you are vegetarian or vegan, there are meatless furikakes.

Furikake with dried shrimp, nori, and sesame seeds

Finally, you will need two rice molds approximately 5.8 by 3.5 centimeters. You can purchase them from amazon.com using this address: https://www.amazon.com/Sushi-Onigiri-Bento-Press-Maker/dp/B06XBWMCPY/ref=sr_1_44?keywords=onigiri+mold+small&qid=1566681321&s=gateway&sr=8-44.

Small onigiri molds

Here’s the recipe:

ONIGIRI (1 serving)

  • One container Annie Chun Sprouted Brown Rice
  • One tablespoon rice wine vinegar
  • One tablespoon furikake
  1. Heat rice in microwave according to directions.
  2. Place cooked rice in a bowl and allow to cool for 10 minutes.
  3. Add vinegar and furikake.
  4. Fill two 5.8 cent. x 3.5 cent. rice molds with the rice. Make sure you really pack the rice in. But don’t put so much in that you can’t seal the molds. You will probably have a little rice leftover.
  5. Place sealed molds in refrigerator. *
  6. Serve with soy sauce or soy sauce mixed with wasabi. (You can get tubes of wasabi from the Asian section of your local supermarket. I got mine at Sprouts.)
Onigiri packed in rice molds.

*It is recommended that you consume the rice balls no later than the day after you have made them. Otherwise, the rice will dry out. Also, do not remove the rice balls from the molds until you are ready to eat them. The molds will retain moisture and texture for better mouth feel.

This side dish is good with cold teriyaki chicken, cold teriyaki salmon, or cold breaded chicken fingers. Make sure to pack some of that soy/wasabi sauce!

“Onigiri”  Wikipedia:  The Free Encyclopedia.  Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.  13 August 2019.  Web.  24 August 2019.