Friday, October 30, 2015

Chicken and Israeli Couscous Soup

The other evening I was browsing through Pinterest. This may come as a shocker, but I rarely go on Pinterest anymore. Their promoted pins and picked for you pins are so annoying. I rarely see anything my friends have pinned because of them. To my surprise, I saw a picture of a delicious looking soup made with pearl, or Israeli, couscous, chicken, and all sorts of good aromatics and spices. (I can't even write the word couscous without pronouncing it like Kahmunrah in Night At The Museum 2) The recipe was posted in full, but I tracked back to the original post at this blog. It's called "cold-fighting couscous chicken soup." I don't have a cold (knock on wood), but it sounded so good that I had to make some on this chilly (for Texas) rainy fall day, with a few tweaks. I used my pressure cooker, but this would be super easy on the stove top. (note: the aromatic pastes I use are the brand Gourmet Garden)

Chicken and Israeli Couscous Soup

1 small onion (or half a large) finely chopped
1 leek, white and light green parts, chopped (I quarter it to rinse, then chop)
2 carrots, sliced
1 rib celery, chopped
1 T garlic paste 
1 T ginger paste
1 T lemongrass paste
1 t chili paste or crushed red pepper flakes
1 t parsley paste
1 t turmeric
1 8.8 oz bag of Israeli couscous
1 boneless chicken breast, diced in small bite sized pieces
4 + cups chicken stock (I used one carton and it made a very thick soup)
1 t TrueLemon (or juice from half a lemon)
1 t TrueLime
1 t chicken base (it's like chicken stock concentrate - I used it instead of salt) or salt to taste

Set your pressure cooker to saute, drizzle some olive or canola oil in, and add your onion, carrots, celery and leeks. I let them soften for a couple of minutes while I was cutting up my chicken breast. Stir in the garlic, ginger, lemongrass, chili and parsley pastes, followed by the turmeric. Add the couscous, stir to coat with the herbs and spices. At this point, cancel from saute mode so that everything doesn't get too hot and scorch. Next, add in the chicken, chicken stock, lemon/lime juice or the True Lemon/Lime crystals (I love the convenience of these crystals) and the spoonful of chicken base or salt if you're using. Place the lid on your cooker, close up, and move the vent knob to seal. Set on high pressure for 5 minutes. Vent with quick release method when timer goes off.


Thursday, October 8, 2015

Chicken And Dumplings - Comfort Food At Its Finest

We have another addition to the Instant Pot family. My Mom mentioned to my sister that she might like one as a group present for Christmas. Not being able to wait, my sister and I got her one for her birthday, and it arrived this week. She was surprised! She asked if I'd ever made chicken and dumplings. I hadn't, but I was willing to try.Truth be told, I've only ever had them once, many years ago. Man, I am glad I did, it was so delicious. This recipe is a bit of a mashup, because I am not capable of following recipes, and I refuse to use canned soup in my chicken and dumplings.

Instant Pot Chicken And Dumplings 

1 T olive oil
1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
1/2 onion, chopped
3 ribs celery, chopped
1/2 t thyme
1/2 t poultry seasoning
4 cups chicken stock
2-3 cups frozen mixed vegetables (peas, carrots, corn, green beans)
2 T flour
1/2 cup half and half
1 1/2 cups Bisquick mix
1/2 cup milk

With your Instant Pot set on saute, drizzle in your olive oil. Season your chicken with salt and pepper. Add chicken to pot and brown for about 5 minutes per side. Your chicken may break up a bit when turning over. That's fine. I used two forks to shred it a bit.  Next, add in your onion, celery, seasoning and chicken stock. Set your pot to high pressure for 12 minutes. (I like my chicken really, really done).

While the chicken is cooking mix together the Bisquick mix and milk, making sure you get all of the lumps out. The dumpling dough needs to be a little less stiff than if you were making biscuits, but not runny like pancake batter. You need a consistency where you can spoon it out and shape it in to an oval.

When your timer goes off, do a quick release of the pressure. It will take a minute or so, so take this time to mix the half and half and the flour together, making sure there are no flour lumps. This will thicken the chicken mixture, which will be really soupy when you take the lid off. Remove the lid, and stir in the half and half, and then the frozen vegetables. Next, carefully spoon the dumplings on top of the hot chicken mixture. I used one soup spoon to spoon mixture out of the bowl, and a second soup spoon to push the dough on to the chicken mixture. Space the dumplings out evenly. Put the lid back on your Instant Pot, leaving the vent open. Let the dumplings steam for about 10 minutes, then remove the lid.

Spoon out your delicious chicken and dumplings in to a bowl and enjoy!