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Chicken Soup With Rice and Thyme

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It’s deep in the fall and the weather is unusually warm.  But that doesn’t mean you can’t make a great soup.  And what better one then a classic?   This time I will keep it simple but very flavorful.   I had some leftover chicken broth from a previous meal and froze it.  I decided instead of taking that and making stock out of it I would use it as is to be my base for this soup.  It’s basically chicken water but it lended itself beautifully to this recipe.   But if you don’t have any lying around regular chicken sock will work.  I hope you enjoy it! I did!

 

Chicken soup with Rice and Thyme
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breast
  • 4 cups chicken broth(water)
  • ½ cup of rice uncooked
  • 3 ribs of celery
  • 2-3 carrots
  • 1 medium onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Thyme
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. When I say 2 chicken breasts I mean two halves.
  2. Make them good sized ones.
  3. This should still be a hearty soup.
  4. Cut chicken into bite sized chunks
  5. Chop onion
  6. Chop celery
  7. Peel and chop carrots
  8. Chop garlic and separate
  9. In a large stock pot, pilule sauté onion and half of garlic in olive oil
  10. Add celery and carrots
  11. A little thyme
  12. A pinch Salt and pepper
  13. Add chicken and cook till done
  14. While cooking the chicken, cook rice till it's almost done.
  15. When chicken is done, add stock/chicken water
  16. Add bay leaf, garlic and a generous amount of Thyme.
  17. Don't over do the thyme!
  18. It should be prominent but not over powering.
  19. Taste and smell as you add
  20. Salt and pepper to taste.
  21. When rice is almost done add it to the soup.
  22. Cook soup for another 10-15 minutes on medium till rice is fully cooked and soup is fully heated
  23. Chicken should be tender and veggies should still have a little crunch.
  24. If you like softer veggies cook a little longer

Getting Ready For Fall

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Crock and beans

 

With the weather getting chilly and Summer memories fading fast, pharm it’s time to get ready for Fall.  This means pulling out the sweaters and light jackets.  Getting  blankets and comforters out from the top shelf of the linen closet.  Watching leave turn colors.  Dusting off that slow cooker.  Washing the stock pots and digging up those wonderful fall recipes, store or discovering new ones.

Here at House of Zeta it may take us a little time to get used to fall, healing as we tend to be spring and summer people.  But once we do, we go all out.  Slow cooking pork shoulders or roasts.  Baking lasagna’s and sweet pies.  Making lots of soups and stocks.  Roasting root vegetables as they become available.  We start to discover our kitchens again and just like old friends it feels like time never passes.

With the days getting shorter and the nights longer, the farmers markets will have less and less to choose from.  The farmers will start to head back upstate and buckle down.  The weather will start to turn even colder as the days go by.  And we will find ourselves indoors more often, which can only mean one thing.  It’s time to enjoy what warm days are left, to grab that mulled wine and simmer it while you slow cook the night away.

 

Basic Black Beans
Author: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 Lb bag of black beans
  • 4-5 cloves of garlic
  • 1 medium onion
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper
  • 4-6 cups water
Instructions
  1. Sort beans to get out rocks or other debris
  2. Soaking them over night or not is up to you
  3. If you soak them, discard liquid the next day and cook with new water
  4. If you don't, then give them a good rinse before cooking
  5. Place beans in slow cooker
  6. Chop onion
  7. Chop garlic
  8. Combine beans, onions, garlic, bay leaves, salt and pepper in slow cooker
  9. Add 4 cups of water
  10. If it covers the beans by ½ inch, don't add more
  11. If not, add till you get ½ inch of water above the beans
  12. Cover and cook for about 4-6 hours on low setting, or until done.
  13. If beans don't seem to be cooking quick enough turn cooker on high for a couple hours
  14. Keep an eye on water level.
  15. It's better to add if needed, then to have to much.
  16. Also if you want, half way through you can add a ham hock or bacon for smokey flavor

Winter Camping

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It’s official.  Camping season is here!  Well almost.  But that didn’t stop us from heading into the woods on this semi warm (21 degrees) winter weekend.  Yes some might call us crazy, buy and this would be one of those times.  But when you feel the need to escape you can’t deny it.  So we hit the trains and trails of Harriman Park and set up camp at our favorite spot, order Lake Skenonto.  We only went for in quick trip this time so we only prepped one meal.  Beef stew.  We wanted something hardy and quick to heat up, as time and day light would be short when we arrived at our campsite.   After trudging through two feet of snow we hit camp and started to prep.  Jason worked on getting a space cleared for a fire and I went hunting for wood.  I came back with very little so we swapped chores and Jason hit the mother load!   I found a log under the snow that we could sit on while our fire roared and I also set up the tent.   After all that work and we rewarded ourselves with a shot of whiskey.   With our fire ablaze we started dinner and enjoyed the serine quiet and beauty of the wilderness.   After dinner and whiskey with a little snow to mellow it out we enjoyed the fire for a while and then headed into the tent to watch a movie.

The next day we woke to a couple of eagles singing a song, made some coffee and breakfast.   After a little leisure time in our winter wonderland we decided to pack it in and slowly made our way back to the train.   We didn’t have time for our usual Chinese farewell meal but that was ok.  After walking through all that snow both ways, just getting home was reward enough.   With our packs off our backs and a congratulatory glass of white wine we are melted into our coach and are dreaming of hitting the trails in spring.

 

 

 

Beef Stew
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
This is a great make a head of time meal for camping.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb beef stew meat
  • 1 32oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 medium onion chopped
  • 1 bell pepper(your choice)
  • 3 medium potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 celery stocks chopped
  • 3 carrots, peeled and slice ¼ inch
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 garlic gloves crushed and separated
  • ¼ teaspoon of oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of thyme
  • Splash of wine (red or white)
  • Couple dashes of worcestershire sauce
  • Smidge of horseradish
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • Flour to dredge meat
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Salt and pepper as you go along
  2. Dredge meat in flour and cook in stock pot with olive oil till they get a little brown on all sides.
  3. About 5 minutes, a quick sear.
  4. Set aside on a plate.
  5. Add onion and celery to pot and cook till onions start to get translucent.
  6. Add thyme and oregano
  7. Add one crushed garlic clove
  8. Add bay leaf
  9. Add potatoes
  10. Splash of wine
  11. Cook till potatoes are half way done
  12. Squeeze tomatoes with hands and put in pot with juice from can
  13. Add carrots, bell pepper, Worcestershire, horseradish
  14. Add meat including any juices.
  15. Add last crushed garlic clove
  16. Salt and pepper to taste
  17. Simmer for 45 - 60 minutes

Pesto, Pesto, Pesto!

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Arugula pesto

 

This year Jason decided to get our local CSA so we could have farm fresh food. We have been getting our fresh veggies, capsule dairy and meat since early summer, and we have been loving it! So have our friends. We’ve been having what I call CSA BBQ’s and CSA dinner parties. One thing about getting all this fresh food is, it really is a lot. So you have to be very creative and eat a lot! Having friends willing to help is a blessing. One thing we’ve been getting is greens. Lots and lots of greens. We eat them for breakfast with fried or poached eggs on top, lunch and dinner. But one of my favorite things we have been doing is taking our arugula, cilantro and parsley and making pesto out of them. Not only do we use all of these tasty greens, we get to enjoy them at our leisure. You can use them as spreads, in pasta, as pizza sauce or add to soups, even rub on a chicken and roast it! The pesto will keep in the fridge for about two weeks or you can  freeze it, which is great way to to make sure it doesn’t go to waste.

 

 

Arugula and Cilantro/Parsley Pesto
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Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: ½ cup
 
Ingredients
  • 2 cups arugula tightly packed
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoons pine nuts
  • ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
  • ½ cup olive oil
  • ½ lemon squeezed and separated
  • Pinch of salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Roast pine nuts
  2. Drizzle a small amount of oil on bottom of blender
  3. Add arugula, Parmesan, pine nuts, half of lemon juice, salt and pepper
  4. Start blending and slowly add oil
  5. Blend till you get a good consistency
  6. Taste and add more salt, pepper and rest of the lemon juice if needed.
Notes
I love garlic that's why I added so much. But if that is too much use one clove.
For cilantro parsley pesto you just need to switch out a few ingredients
1 cup packed cilantro leaves
1 cup packed parsley
2 tablespoons almonds(some say blanched almonds but I don't think it's necessary)
And continue as normal.

Pumpkin and Potato Soup

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Pumpkin and Potato Soup - based on Mum's yellow potatoes
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Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
Ingredients
  • 1 small sugar pumpkin (3.5 - 4lbs)
  • 4-5 medium potatoes
  • ½ cup heavy cream
  • 4 tablespoons of butter
  • ½ cup vegetable stock
  • House of Zeta Homewrecker Hot Sauce (or similar earthy smoked hot sauce)
  • Salt and pepper
Instructions
  1. Cut pumpkin in quarters and de-seed
  2. Cut pumpkins one more time in half
  3. Peel potatoes and cut into chunks
  4. Steam both separately
  5. When done drain and let cool
  6. Scrape pumpkin into bowl
  7. Add potatoes, and cream, butter.
  8. Mash together adding some salt and pepper
  9. Place mash mix in blender add stock and blend until smooth
  10. Add two or three dashes of the hot sauce to taste
  11. Salt and pepper to taste of needed
  12. Reheat and serve.
Notes
Ratio of pumpkin to potato should be ⅔ pumpkin to ⅓ potato. Keep this in mind when making soup.

 

 

Pumpkin and Potato Soup

 

Is Pumpkin and Potato soup your new staple for this fall and winter? We think so, and here’s why. Jason and I received an invite to our friends annual pumpkin party this last weekend and were told to make something with pumpkin. It was requested that I make Paula Deens pumpkin gooey cake. No problem. I love it and it’s become a staple in our Thanksgiving meals. It even replaces the pumpkin pie! But we also wanted to bring a savory dish as well. Our first thought was pumpkin and potato mash. A side dish Jason grew up with. But as we cooked every thing and started to put it together we noticed that it was looking and tasting like a great soup. So we added some vegetable stock to thin it out a bit and next thing you know we had an amazing soup! Jason also added a bit of our Home Wrecker hot sauce for a little surprise. At the party people were practically licking their bowls, or was that just us?! We recreated the recipe here. It’s easy and very un-fussy. The hardest part is cutting up the pumpkin. But it’s worth it as you get to roast the seeds! With fall and winter settling in remember your new best friend, pumpkin and potato soup. It’s the perfect starter or side dish with a grilled turkey and cheese sandwich.

Vegetarian Chili for Camping

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Chili Chili fixin's Chili veggies

 

One of the easiest things to make for camping is vegetarian chili. You just chuck everything in a pot, no rx let it simmer for a while and tah dah! It’s done. I’ve made this so many times that I don’t measure anymore. Who am I kidding a never measure! Ok so I’ve gotten better at measuring thanks to writing about what we cook. You can keep it vegetarian or add meat it’s all up to you. We usually are out for a couple days so keeping it meat free is best. I also freeze it so it becomes part of the ice we use to keep everything fresh. I like to add as many fresh ingredients as possible, like tomatoes, corn, carrots, onions, bell peppers and sometimes zucchini. This is a great dish to experiment with and have fun.

 

 

Vegetarian Chili for Camping
Author: 
Recipe type: Main dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
Ingredients
  • 1 8oz can of black beans
  • 1 8oz can of dark kidney beans
  • 1 8oz can of pink beans
  • 1 28oz can of whole tomatoes
  • 1 14.5 oz can of chopped tomatoes
  • 1 15 oz can of tomato sauce
  • 1-2 6oz cans of tomato paste( depending on how thick you want it)
  • 2 tomatoes
  • 1 med onion
  • 1 med green bell pepper
  • 1 med red or yellow or orange bell pepper(your choice)
  • 2 carrots(3 if small)
  • 1 med zucchini
  • 2 cloves of garlic
  • 1 teaspoon of oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon of cumin
  • 2 tablespoons of chili powder
  • ¼ teaspoon of ancho chile powder
  • 1 large or two medium bay leaves
  • ½ tablespoon of salt
  • ½ tablespoon of pepper
  • Pinch of red pepper flakes
  • Olive oil
Instructions
  1. Peel and chop onion
  2. Peel and chop carrots
  3. Chop bell peppers and zucchini into cubes
  4. Cut kernels off corn
  5. Chop tomatoes
  6. Peel and rough chop garlic
  7. In large sauce pan add some olive oil and onion
  8. A sprinkle of salt and pepper
  9. Sauté for a few minutes
  10. Add tomatoes and simmer for a few minutes till tomatoes start falling apart
  11. Add remaining vegetables, garlic and cans of tomatoes, sauce and paste
  12. Rinse beans and add them to the pot
  13. Add spices and herbs, salt and pepper
  14. Simmer for about 20 minutes
  15. let cool and put in freezer bags and freeze.
Notes
If you aren't a camper that's ok, this is a great meal anytime. They say to let chili sit overnight that way it incorporates all the flavors. I usually can't wait, but if you can, let the pot cool off, refrigerate and reheat the next day.
Don't for get the hot sauce, cheese and sour cream for the ultimate bowl of chili!

Oh Canada

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When Jason’s Mum came to NYC for a visit we wanted to take her some where different. She’s been to Washington, viagra D.C., and Provincetown, so we had to think of somewhere new. Jason came up with Montreal. It’s just far enough for a quick weekend getaway. To maximize our time together and in Montreal we took the train up and flew back.

The train was a wonderful way to spend the day together. We probably packed way too much food(oops!), but the scenery was just breath taking and we relaxed our way into our weekend. With a recommendation from a friend we stayed at the Chateau De Argoat Hotel. It is perfectly situated near everything and a block and a half from the nearest subway and the bus depot that you can take to the airport.

Once we were all settled we headed out for dinner. You think with all the food we had on the train we wouldn’t be hungry. Wrong! We decided to keep it simple and went to a delicatessen called The Main and had smoked meat and poutine(fries with gravy and cheese curds). Perfect for weary travelers.

The next day we headed for old Montreal and soaked in the history. Walked along the canal where all kinds of new construction is happening . It reminded us of what is happening to Brooklyn back home. We even got Jason’s mum on a bike! After a very valiant effort, we let her off the hook and we walked for rest of our journey. Which included finding an oasis beer garden/indoor beach volleyball club. It was nice to sit relax some more and watch a little bit of sport. We finally made it to our destination the Atwater open market. Unfortunately we were a little late and only managed to procure some fromage, crackers and olives for our efforts. But all was not lost. That just made dinner all the better! We ended up at Cafe Cherrier, not your typical cafe. I had pistachio encrusted salmon, Jason had steak and his mum had veal ravioli. Amazing! So far Montreal is winning in all categories, architecture, historic sights, weather and food!

The next day was Mothers Day and Jason planned a nice dinner, but we changed our minds and made it a brunch date instead. We were so glad we did. Le Pegase did not disappoint. They had a special pre fix menu for Mother’s Day brunch and luckily for us we had three choices for the appetizers and main course. So we all got to try a little of everyone’s meal. To say it was amazing is an understatement. We left floating on air with very satisfied full bellies.

After our heavenly experience we wandered around and made our way to Mount Royal to see the tam tams, aka, a drum circle. Also to climb to the top and see the view of the city. It was another beautiful day and everyone was out just lapping up the sun and music. After a little rest we headed to our final destination, the top of Mount Royal. We lazed around on the lawn chairs took in the scenic view, walked over to the very large cross and then made our descent back down and to our hotel for the night.

Sadly our last day was a short one. We just took it easy, had a picnic at La Fountaine Park, played our ukuleles and soaked in the sun. We then hoped on the bus, checked ourselves through airport security and flew home. Another adventure down and many more to come!

Spring/Winter camping?!

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Our first camping trip of the season was amazing and cold!

The day started out fine, pills a little cloudy but not too bad. We hit the subway, no rx then train to Tuxedo, grabbed the last of the supplies and hit the trail. We made it to camp with plenty of time to gather wood, pitch the tent, get water and start our fire. It was a lazy afternoon. Well as lazy as that can be. We took our time and enjoyed the spring day. We did notice along the way that there was still snow in random spots and when we arrived at our usual camp site, the lake was still frozen in parts. Jason dubbed this trip, winter camping! We were still delighted, the sun had come out and we just lapping up the quiet and slow pace we were settling into.

 

 

With our fire in full swing and whiskey in our cups we started dinner. We kept it simple. Dry rubbed ribs, steak, asparagus and baked potatoes. One of the best things about camping is you can wrap everything in foil, chuck it in the fire and leg it go. Of course we love cooking a more elaborate meal, but our first outing we wanted to keep it as simple as possible. After dinner we put more wood on the fire and watched the sunset. So far so good, right? Then the sun went down and the wind and cold went up! We usually hangout by the fire for a while but not that night. We headed into the tent and watched a movie I had downloaded. All snuggled up with hot water bottles, snacks and our movie we settled in for the night.

The next morning was bright and sunny. The wind was still whipping around a little and we thought we might have to take the early train home. But thankfully it went away and a beautiful spring day took over. We made breakfast, eggs, potatoes and bacon, and just relaxed. By lunch time we were sufficiently hungry and found our leftover ribs and butter were missing. These were to be added to our egg drop ramen soup. We couldn’t find them anywhere. After a little more searching, I found the empty foil I had wrapped the butter in, and a fork! Jason had heard something in the night like an animal walking through our camp but thought nothing of it. There are deer, geese, hawks, ducks and we usually camp next to a beaver and his dam. I guess one of them got hungry in the night!

We still enjoyed our lunch, finished our movie and made our way back to civilization. It’s always a bitter sweet walk. As we get closer to the train station you realize it’s almost over. But our reward for making this trip and back in one piece is Chinese food across the street from the platform. With our delicious snack in our bellies we drink our travel beer on the train and make the long ride home. Already dreaming of our next camping adventure.

Remodeling and The Bean Soup

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Mixed Bean and Lentil Soup with Bacon
Author: 
Recipe type: Main dish
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 6-8
 
This is a very easy recipe that you can leave and get things done. Once you have done the prep all you have to do wait.
Ingredients
  • 1 lb of mixed beans and lentils
  • 2 Tbsp of butter
  • 1 Tbsp of olive oil
  • 6 cups of stock(your choice)
  • 4 pieces of bacon chopped
  • 1 onion
  • 1 red bell pepper
  • 4 celery ribs
  • 4 carrots
  • 1 bunch of flat leaf parsley
  • ½ box of frozen peas
  • 1 lime cut in half and separated
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 cloves of garlic chopped
  • dry herb mix- oregano, salve dill, medical chive, celery leaf, kale, parsley
  • (you can make your own mix)
  • Splash of red wine or beer or water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Instructions
  1. Chop up bacon
  2. Chop up onion
  3. Cut celery into ½ inch pieces
  4. Peel and cut carrots into ½ inch rounds
  5. Cut red pepper into ½ in squares
  6. Rough chop parsley and set half to the side
  7. On med to high heat put oil and butter in large soup/stock pot
  8. Add onion and cook till they get soft
  9. Make a ring on the edge of the pot with onions
  10. Add bacon in the center and let cook for a couple minutes
  11. Stir onions and bacon together and cook till bacon starts to get crisp
  12. Add stock, beans and lentils and herb mix
  13. Bring to boil and lower flame to very low
  14. Let simmer for 4-5 hours with lid on
  15. Last hour add celery, carrots and bell peppers
  16. Add beer or wine or water if soup seems too thick
  17. (this is if the soup starts to get to dry)
  18. You want some broth
  19. The last 15 minutes add the peas and half the parsley
  20. Save the other half for garnish
  21. Salt and pepper to taste
Notes
The beans and lentils can be any combo you want. Also I say 6 hours but the soup can be ready between 4- 6 hours. It just depends on how you like your beans. Adjust times accordingly

 

 

We started the remodel because Jason’s friend suggested it.  Not only suggested it, but had developed a plan.  Jason was all ears.  I heard about it second hand.  It sounded vague but promising.  So we headed to this warehouse in Greenpoint to get these colorful brackets that were the basis of this mini make over.  They were bright, but something about them and the ideas that were being talked about made sense.  We walked out with a bunch of them.  The plan was in motion. We stopped at a bar to discuss the rest of the plan as it existed at that time.  As things came together, salvaged wood shelving, the color scheme of the kitchen, things changed and evolved.  Next thing you know we are painting the ceiling terracotta/brick red and the inside of the pantry became canary yellow.

The apartment is in complete disarray.  So cooking is not easy, to say the least.  But the Lab must continue to experiment and make new food.  The latest is a mixed bean, lentil and bacon soup that could sit for hours as we continued to work on the shelving.  It’s a basic soup but with a few extras thrown in on purpose and also just for the fun of it.  We started with a bag of beans and lentils we found at our local Indian market.  You could easily replicate the of mix beans and lentils if you don’t have access to store like this.  From there it was what broth to use?  We chose a combo of beef and vegetable.  One, because it’s what we had available and two because given the chance I will always use broth over water.  For reasons that are obvious.  We also had an herb bag for soup that we found during our excavation of the pantry.  Also from the Indian store.  From there we added onion, bacon, celery, carrot and a red bell pepper. As the soup cooked and as I tasted it, it also changed. From seasoning, to consistency, to the acidity. I added half the juice and pulp of a lime.  I always have citrus around as it’s always good for such occasions.  It took the bite out the soup that I couldn’t help but wonder how it got there.  I thank my friend Regina for this trick.  She is a brilliant cook.

Four hours and a few layers of polyurethane later we were ready to eat.  The soup was amazing and though we aren’t nearly finished with the kitchen and the shelving, at least we finished another food journey that will be part of our cannon for years to come.  Now if we could just get the rest of the kitchen off the living room floor!

Lasagna

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Lasagna! Filling Onions, <a href=website like this celery and bay leaf” src=”http://houseofzeta.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/image-300×225.jpg” width=”300″ height=”225″ />

 

With winter setting in, ask we all want to hunker down and eat.  And what better way then with a big ole piece goodness called lasagna?!  Do you make it at Christmas or New Years, or whenever you want that giant casserole dish of baked noodles with sauce and cheese?  Do you add meat or vegetables?  Maybe you’re a white sauce kind of person?  For me, it all comes down to one thing, tomato sauce.  It screams lasagna.  All red and bubbly with veggies and Italian sausage, yum!

I usually start with one large and one medium can of whole tomatoes.  Giving them a medium rough chop so you have nice chunks of tomato.  Then I saute onions, garlic and whatever vegetables I want in my sauce, like celery and bell peppers, all seasoned with the herbs I’m using in the sauce.  I find it helps get things going.  If I am adding sausage, I cook the veggies in with the sausage, onions and garlic first then the rest.  Next I combine the tomatoes, veggies, meat and simmer for a few minutes then add some paste to thicken.  More herbs and simmer for as long as necessary.  I even slice zucchini to put in between the layers.

When it comes to cheese, fresh is best.  But we all know we can’t always get it or have the time to make it.  So do your best and it will be just fine.  I do stir up my ricotta if it comes store bought, makes it easier to spread or drop.  But my big discovery is to grate most or all of your mozzarella, which can be evenly distributed.  This will keep you from having that moment when you accidentally sliced it too thick and don’t have enough to cover the top.  Oops!  Been there done that! And who ever thought of cottage cheese as a substitute for ricotta should be shot.  Don’t do it ever! You are not doing yourself or your guests any favors.

Then there is the debate on the noodles.  Fully cook, don’t cook, cook partially.  What do you do?  Ive done all three.  I prefer to cook them al dente so they finish with the flavors of the sauce.  Also cook and extra one or two just in case one rips.  If not then have fun eating it while the lasagna cooks.

Once you have done all this, simply put it in the oven at 350 till golden bubbly, about 30-45 minutes and when done, let it stand for about 15 minutes and serve.   What could be more perfect and easy then that?

*if you think you need more sauce, always add another can of tomatoes, medium or large depending on how saucy you want your lasagna.  Or add another dollop of paste to thicken.*

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