Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Buffalo Chicken Soup

One of the greatest soups in the world is pictured here.
I love, love, love all things Buffalo sauce. Buffalo wings? Obviously. Buffalo chicken dip? Or course. Buffalo chicken mac 'n cheese? A personal favorite! Licking the plate clean after any of these? Well I do not want to waste food... So yeah, I love Buffalo chicken soup.

I should also point out I am a bit of an elitist on the subject. Ranch with your wings? Screw you, you heretic. Get off my blog and do not ever come back. Buffalo wings with the word BBQ anywhere near it are NOT Buffalo wings. They are chicken wings. Real Buffalo sauce has two main ingredients (cayenne pepper sauce and butter) with a few acceptable additives (garlic being the only really worth while one). I could go one, but I will not. 

I tell you these things not to offend, but to establish the emotional level I have when it comes to this type of recipe. When you get to my rant about flavor in the commentary, I hope you will take me seriously.

1/4 cup butter
2 bunches green onions, chopped
3 stalks celery, chopped
1/4 cup flour
3/4 cup milk (I used 2%)
3/4 cup chicken broth
2 cups diced cooked chicken
1/4-1/2 cup Frank's Red Hot Original (do NOT use wing sauce - see commentary)
4 ounces Velveeta cheese (cut into a few pieces)
1/2 teaspoon cayenne
1/2 teaspoon celery salt
1 clove garlic, finely minced

Sau the onions and celery in butter until as tender as you want (using medium heat).
Stir in flour until smooth.
Add milk and broth a little at a time. Stir until completely mixed before adding more.
Once all the liquids are thoroughly mixed in, add remaining ingredients. Reduce heat, simmer, stirring occasionally, until cheese has completely melted.

As noted I have strong options about all things Buffalo sauce, so please hear me out. Frank's Red Hot Original (or similar cayenne pepper hot sauce) is the best flavor for this recipe. I strongly suggest against using a "wing sauce". Cayenne pepper sauce is an ingredient and primary flavor of most wing sauces, but they tend to be "creamier" than Frank's. They might not have actual butter mixed in, but they taste like they do. The problem is this recipe has lots of creamy (milk, butter, Velveeta) mixed in. By doubling down on creamy flavor can really cut back on that main flavors: cayenne and vinegar which is key to true "Buffalo" flavor. If you think Frank's is too spicy, I beg you just to use less, not a wing sauce. 

As much as I love Bdub's (and I seriously do), this is not the time or place for their sauce.
Make sure you really give the Velveeta lots of time to melt. I would say at least 5-10 minutes after you do not see any chunks left. The smaller chunks are hard to distinguish from chicken, so even if you cannot see any they are probably still there. Just make sure you do not have the heat high enough that you are going to burn anything.

Speaking of it, I feel a little sick to the stomach every time I buy Velveeta. I do not know why, just something about a "cheese product" in a box a weirds me out. That said it is worth it for this glorious soup.

This is an easily customized recipe. The butter, flour, milk, broth, and Velveeta should not be significantly altered, but go nuts elsewhere. Want it vegetarian? Leave out the chicken. Love (or hate) the crunch of celery? Add or reduce as desired. I used a little bit less green onions in this batch just because they looked terrible at the local grocer. You can add all kinds of fun things to this recipe and it will be good.

What I felt like adding today.

This makes about two large meal sized bowls. It freezes very well so I have been known to made double and quadruple batches and eat it for the next week or two.

I will make again and again and again and again. Great for the winter since it is a thick, hot, spicy soup.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Apple Butter Barbecued Chicken


The wifey and I went to the pumpkin patch yesterday. It was a good time. We took a hay ride out to a field with a lot of pumpkins lying around and a corn maze. It was nice, family friendly, wholesome, yadda, yadda, yadda. Then they take you back and there is a farmer's market. That is when shit got real.

True statement.
Despite really wanting to come home with mountains of meat, cheese, peanut brittle, and fudge, I came home with a large jar of apple butter and some cider. So I immediately Googled "apple butter chicken" and found this. Aside: I have no idea why that was the first thing I thought of but it was. While I intend to revisit apple butter chicken in the near future, this was a nice start.

So much apple butter... with such strange pricing.
4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves (~1.5 lbs)
1/3 cup apple butter
2 tablespoons salsa
2 tablespoons ketchup
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1/2 teaspoon salt, optional
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
2 drops Worcestershire sauce
2 drops Liquid Smoke, optional


Place chicken in a foil lined backing dish.
Combine remaining ingredients; pour over chicken. 
Bake, uncovered, at 375° for 25 minutes or until cooked through.

As usual,  breast halves where roided-out chicken breast halves sliced along the thickness. I try to list weight so we are all on the same page.

I only made half the recipe because I felt like it. Half of 1/3 of a cup is 2 tablespoons plus 2 teaspoons by the way. Look, I just saved you a Google search. You are welcome.

Speaking of halving, two drops is kind of hard to pull off (especially since my liquid smoke is an open neck bottle). So I poured a bit into the smallest spoon I could readily find and dripped from the spoon.

This is about as simple as cooking gets (disregarding pre-made stuff). Mix ingredients in bowl, dump on chicken, bake, and eat (although if I have to tell you that last part, this blog might be too advanced for you).

Dump and bake.

This is good stuff, but nothing to write home about. It was not as sweet as I wanted (the salsa and ketchup really knocked down the sweetness of the apple butter), but it was enjoyable and super easy. Would make again.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Slow Cooker Chicken and Dumplings

A Hearty Return to the World of Blogging

So I have been sitting on this one. I could not really give the context until now: the wifey is prego! <cue ominous music> 

I mean as in knocked up, not the spaghetti sauce. I mean a person cannot BE Prego. After Citizens United a corporation can be a person but I do not think it works the other way around. Besides Wikipedia tells me Prego is a "trade mark brand name pasta sauce" of Campbell Soup Company (NYSE: CPB). Certainly a person cannot be a brand name of a corporation... I think. Long story short my wife and unborn child are not affiliated with the Campbell Soup Company and we wish them the success in the future as long as their interests don't conflict with our interests. Thank you.

Anyway, we have been winging meals a lot more lately instead of planning them hence my absence. The other day though she was trying to find food that sounded good and she forwarded me this recipe. Mind you she does not love stews typically. Sure you could call this more of a pot pie than a stew, but I did not ask questions. I just make it before she changed her mind.

2 tablespoons butter
1 (10.75 ounce) cans condensed cream of chicken soup
1 onion, finely diced
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon parsley
1 teaspoon poultry seasoning
1 teaspoon seasoned salt
1 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces frozen vegetable medley
2 skinless, boneless chicken breast halves (~1.5-2 lbs)
5-10 ounces reduced sodium chicken broth / stock (depends on the size of your slow cooker and the density of the other ingredients)
1 (14.5 ounce) packages refrigerated biscuit dough, torn into small pieces

Place the place butter, cream of chicken soup, onion, spices, and vegetables in a slow cooker. Mix well, top with chicken and fill with enough broth / stock to cover the chicken.

Cover, and cook for 4 to 5 hours on High. Remove and shred the chicken, return to cooker, and mix. Place the torn biscuit dough on top of the other ingredients in the the slow cooker. Cook until the dough is no longer raw in the center (about another 1 hour for a total of 5 to 6).

"This is my pot pie recipe. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My pot pie recipe is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it as I must master my life." Sorry. Tangent.

Anyway here is a pictorial guide to the oh so complicated steps of "throw it a pot and cook".


Post-mixing plus chicken.
Broth added.
Post cooking / shredding.
Plus raw dough: not to be eaten.
Cooked dough: ok to proceed with eating.
The center dough was eaten for testing purposes.
Be jealous of my super cool old school Crock-Pot! So retro! I am pretending like I spent lots of money on this at an antique store instead of it being a hand me down from my mom.

This is originally an recipe. I have mixed feelings about that website. They have some good stuff, but it tends to come up in Google searches all the time... even when not really relevant. On top of that the recipes tend to be super basic and dull. This one was. Luckily the comments had some good suggestions. Long story short: is the spices and frozen vegetables were a total shot in the dark. It worked for me. If you are sensative to salty or spicy, you can tone down on corresponding spices. It you want more or less vegetables, etc, etc.

The original recipe says 30 minutes for the dough. That did not seem like enough, but it was hard to tell. You bake a biscuit in the oven and you take them out when they get golden. The slow cooker does not produce that color, so I went with the toothpick method (put a toothpick in the middle of the dough, if it comes out clean it is done) plus a few minutes. I was not really worried about over cooking so, 60 minutes seemed safe.

This is a big delicious meal. It is warm and doughy and felt like a hug in my stomach.