Monday, December 12, 2011

Chicken and Gnocchi Soup like the Olive Garden

We rarely go to the Olive Garden or any Italian place for dinner. Face it, I'm not going to pay $15 for one plate of pasta when I can make at home for $5 and feed 4 people. But they were running the soup and salad deal so my husband and I went for a late lunch one day. I fell in love with the chicken and gnocchi soup. It was warm, creamy, and delicious. Only there wasn't enough gnocchi in the soup for me. Heck one bowl they brought out didn't have a single gnocchi in it. I knew then I could find a recipe and make it myself. The only problem is I couldn't find gnocchi at my local store so I substituted orecchiette and I put in a lot of them. It was wonderful. I have since made a trip to Trader Joe's and found gnocchi so next time I make it, it will be true chicken and gnocchi soup.

I also used chicken from ones we had grill roasted. I love to fill my grill up with whole chickens and cook several all at once. I mean why not? It freezes well and it takes the same amount of time and effort to cook one chicken as it does to cook four. We have a roast chicken dinner the night we cook them and after they cool we pick the chickens and put the pieces into freezer bags. Then it is ready for soup or casseroles or pot pie. It pays to think ahead.

Yield: 8 servings.
1 cup chicken breasts, cooked and diced (you can use a rotisserie chicken)
4 tablespoons butter
4 tablespoons flour
1 quart half and half
1 14 ounce can chicken broth
1/2 cup celery, finely diced
2 garlic cloves, minced
1 cup carrots, finely shredded
1 cup onion, finely diced
1 cup fresh spinach, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon extra virgin oil
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1/2 teaspoon parsley
Freshly grated parmesan cheese – optional
1 pound potato gnocchi – can buy this in the gourmet section of many supermarkets
Sauté the onion, celery, and garlic in the butter and olive oil, over medium heat when the onion becomes translucent, add the flour, and make a roux, let the butter and flour mixture cook for about a minute before adding 1 quart of half and half.

Cook gnocchi according to package directions.

Into the roux add in the carrots and chicken. Once the mixture becomes thick add the chicken broth. Once the mixture thickens again, add the cooked gnocchi, spinach, and seasonings, simmer until soup is heated through.

Recipe found at CopyKat.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Pumpkin Bread Sandwich with a Pumpkin Seed and Cream Cheese Filling

Pumpkin Bread Sandwich with a Pumpkin Seed and Cream Cheese Filling

Recipe courtesy Emeril Lagasse, 2000

Prep Time:
25 min
Inactive Prep Time:
20 min
Cook Time:
1 hr 0 min
8 servings


  • 1 teaspoon butter
  • 1/3 cup vegetable shortening
  • 1 cup light brown sugar
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Pinch nutmeg
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 cup toasted pecan pieces
  • 1 cup Cream Cheese Filling, recipe follows
  • Shaker confectioners' sugar
  • 8 sprigs fresh mint


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9 by 5 by 3-inch loaf pan with 1 teaspoon of the butter.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the shortening and sugar. Cream the mixture until smooth. Sift the flour, spices, baking soda, baking powder and salt and set aside. Add the eggs, one at a time, to the creamed mixture and mix until incorporated. Add the pumpkin puree and mix until smooth. Add the sifted flour mixture, about 1/2 cup at a time, alternately with the buttermilk until all is incorporated and the batter is smooth. Fold in the pecans.

Pour into the prepared pan and bake for 55 to 60 minutes or until golden brown and when a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. Remove from the oven and cool for 10 minutes before serving.

Slice the bread into 1/2-inch slices. Spread the some of the Cream Cheese Frosting between 2 slices and form a sandwich. Slice in half diagonally and place against eachother on a serving plate. Garnish with confectioners' sugar and a sprig of fresh mint.

Pumpkin Seed and Cream Cheese Filling:

  • 4 tablespoons butter, at room temperature
  • 4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 3 cups confectioners' sugar, sifted
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon milk
  • 1/4 cup pumpkin seeds, salted and toasted

With an electric mixer, in a medium mixing bowl, cream the butter and cream cheese until smooth. Add the confectioners' sugar, about 1/2 cup at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla and milk and mix well. Fold in the pumpkin seeds.

Yield: about 1 cup

Tortilla Soup

one of our favorites, from Cooks Illustrated March 2005


  • Tortilla Strips
  • 8 corn tortillas (6-inch), cut into 1/2-inch-wide strips
  • 1tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Table salt
  • Soup
  • 2 split bone-in, skin-on chicken breasts (about 1 1/2 pounds) or 4 bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 1/4 pounds), skin removed and well trimmed of excess fat
  • 8cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1very large white onion (about 1 pound), trimmed of root end, quartered, and peeled
  • 4medium cloves garlic , peeled
  • Table salt
  • 2sprigs epazote , fresh, or 8 to 10 sprigs fresh cilantro plus 1 sprig fresh oregano
  • 2 medium tomatoes , cored and quartered
  • 1/2 medium jalapeño chile
  • 1 chipotle chile en adobo , plus up to 1 tablespoon adobo sauce
  • 1tablespoon vegetable oil
  • Garnishes
  • 1 lime , cut into wedges
  • 1 Hass avocado , diced fine
  • Fresh cilantro leaves
  • 8ounces cotija cheese , crumbled, or Monterey Jack cheese, diced fine
  • Minced jalapeno pepper
  • Mexican crema or sour cream


  1. 1. FOR THE TORTILLA STRIPS: Adjust oven rack to middle position; heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread tortilla strips on rimmed baking sheet; drizzle with oil and toss until evenly coated. Bake until strips are deep golden brown and crisped, about 14 minutes, rotating pan and shaking strips (to redistribute) halfway through baking time. Season strips lightly with salt; transfer to plate lined with several layers paper towels.

  2. 2. FOR THE SOUP: While tortilla strips bake, bring chicken, broth, 2 onion quarters, 2 garlic cloves, epazote, and 1/2 teaspoon salt to boil over medium-high heat in large saucepan; reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until chicken is just cooked through, about 20 minutes. Using tongs, transfer chicken to large plate. Pour broth through fine-mesh strainer; discard solids in strainer. When cool enough to handle, shred chicken into bite-sized pieces; discard bones.

  3. 3. Puree tomatoes, 2 remaining onion quarters, 2 remaining garlic cloves, jalapeño, chipotle chile, and 1 teaspoon adobo sauce in food processor until smooth. Heat oil in Dutch oven over high heat until shimmering; add tomato/onion puree and 1/8 teaspoon salt and cook, stirring frequently, until mixture has darkened in color, about 10 minutes. Stir strained broth into tomato mixture, bring to boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer to blend flavors, about 15 minutes. Taste soup; if desired, add up to 2 teaspoons additional adobo sauce. Add shredded chicken and simmer until heated through, about 5 minutes. To serve, place portions of tortilla strips in bottom of individual bowls and ladle soup into bowls; pass garnishes separately.