Homestyle Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

This post goes out to all the folks that might be suffering from the effects of this year’s harsh cold and flu season…

My week began with a trip to urgent care as I woke on Monday with the symptoms of a bad flu. My chest felt heavy and I had a low hacking cough that shook my core every time it took a hold of me. After being diagnosed with an upper respiratory infection, I headed home with a supply of medication to help ease my discomfort.  I knew that a bit of rest and a pot of piping hot chicken noodle soup would certainly help me find relief.  

This is a quick and easy recipe that has become a family favorite over the years.  Chunks of onion, carrot, celery and chicken make for a hearty base while the steaming hot broth warms the throat and nestles down into the tummy.  Comfort food at its best. To save a bit of time, I often purchase a rotisserie chicken from the local grocer and shred up the juicy, well seasoned chicken before adding it to the broth.  My favorite stock base to use is L.B. Jamison’s.  I follow the directions on the back of the jar.  Perfect every time…  What a welcome recipe when you’re feeling under the weather.

Homestyle Chunky Chicken Noodle Soup

8- 10 cups water

8 teaspoons chicken flavored soup base (or adjust to taste)

3 medium carrot, peeled and sliced

3 stalk celery, sliced

1 medium onion, diced

2 cups shredded cooked chicken

2 teaspoons black pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon dried parsley

2 cup cooked noodles

Heat water to boiling, add soup base.  Reduce heat to simmer.  Add carrots, celery, onions, pepper, garlic, and parsley.  Simmer vegetables until tender.  Add chicken and cook for an additional 10 minutes, stirring occasionally.  Keep cooked noodles separate and add a small handful to each bowl of soup before serving.  This keeps noodles al dente.

Queso Blanco Chicken and Salsa

On a recent Saturday outing, my family and I stumbled upon a quaint new restaurant in the middle of our town square featuring Mexican cuisine.  As we were seated in the festive dining room, a heaping basket of freshly made chips and salsa was delivered to the table.  Looking over the extensive menu, I was excited to find a chicken dish that seemed fresh and flavorful with simple ingredients.  I immediately requested the dish and continued to munch on the crispy chips and spicy salsa while listening to the sounds of the lively Mexican music streaming through the sound system.  

As we waited for our meal to arrive, we chatted about our desire to visit a local farmer’s market to find lots of fresh produce to make our own salsa when returning home for the day.  

Alas, our meals arrived and as the waitress placed the scrumptious looking dish in front of me, I realized how simple it would be for me to replicate the flavors at home and quickly made a note of all of the items on the plate.  After a lovely meal, we headed out to the farmer’s market located a few short blocks through the town square. We enjoyed a lovely walk through the bustling scene teaming with a variety of fresh vegetables and quickly scooped up the ingredients needed to replicate my chicken dish.  This is how I assembled my own version of the delicious meal…

Queso Blanco Chicken and Salsa

6 chicken breasts

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1 (15 oz.) jar Queso Blanco Dip

1 1/2 cups Fresh (or store bought) Chunky Salsa (see recipe below)

6 ears corn, shucked and cleaned

2 avocado, sliced

Season chicken breasts with salt, pepper, and garlic powder.  Bake or grill for 30-45 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.  In the meantime, place ears of corn on outdoor grill or indoor grilling skillet, roast until tender.  Slice corn off of the cob.  Season to taste with butter and salt, if desired.  In a microwave safe bowl, heat Queso Blanco Dip until warm and pourable.  To serve, place a chicken breast on each plate, drizzle with Queso Blanco Dip and garnish with fresh cilantro. Next,  add to the plate, a couple of heaping spoons of roasted corn, fresh salsa, and slices of avocado.  Simple and delicious!

Homemade Chunky Salsa

2 cups ripe plum tomatoes, diced 

1/4 cup white onion, chopped

3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, finely chopped

1 1/2 teaspoons lime juice, bottled or fresh

3/4 teaspoon kosher salt (or to taste)

1 small garlic clove, minced

Combine all the ingredients in a bowl.  Cover tightly and refrigerate before serving.



Creamy Chicken Lasagna



This is an adaptation of a recipe that I found in a Better Homes and Gardens magazine many years ago.  I had received the magazine as a “free trial” but I rarely had time to read it as my 3 children were young and my life was busy.  I did, however, make it a point to visit the recipe contest page to see what recipes had been selected as “winners” for each monthly issue.  

One month, a recipe for a white chicken lasagna was chosen.  It was a bit more complicated than the adaptation I have submitted below. The white sauce was elaborate…starting with a classic roux.  Managing a busy household, I had no time for that so I decided to use a purchased sauce.  This eliminated a few time consuming steps and made for a quick and tasty alternative.  It was a big hit in my household so I’ve been making it this way ever since.

Creamy Chicken Lasagna

1 (16 ounce) package lasagna noodles

1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped broccoli

3 boneless chicken breasts, poached and diced

2 (16 ounce) jars Alfredo-style pasta sauce

4 cups shredded mozzarella cheese

1 (16 oz) container cottage cheese

1 egg

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

3/4 teaspoon pepper

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Grease a 9X13″ baking dish.  Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add pasta and cook for 8 to 10 minutes or until al dente; drain. Cook broccoli according to package directions; drain well.  In a medium bowl, combine cooked chicken, broccoli and one jar of Alfredo sauce, garlic powder, and pepper; stir together. In a separate bowl, beat egg into cottage cheese.  Add Italian seasonings; stir well.  Pour 1/3 of the jar of remaining Alfredo sauce in bottom of the pan, spread evenly.  Place one layer of lasagna noodles, edges overlapping, into the baking dish.  Pour 1/3 chicken, broccoli, and Alfredo sauce mixture over the noodle layer and spread evenly. Spread 1/3 cottage cheese mixture over chicken, broccoli, and Alfredo sauce mixture.  Sprinkle 1/3 of the shredded mozzarella over chicken mixture.  Continue to layer two more times, ending with a sprinkling of mozzarella cheese. Tightly cover with foil.   Bake 30-35 minutes.   Remove foil and continue to cook for 5-10 minutes until top is brown and bubbly.



Copy Cat Marshall Field’s Chicken Salad

20140913-075356.jpg
I grew up in a northwest suburb of Chicago. When I was young, there was a bus that would travel from the center of my small town to a local shopping mall that housed the famous Marshall Field’s & Company. During the summer months, my best friend and I would board the bus and head to the mall. The bus was never crowded and the air conditioned environment was a welcome sensation as we had to ride our bikes to the bus stop in the summer heat. The first stop at this enormous shopping mall was the Marshall Field’s entrance. We would hop off the bus and head to our favorite restaurant destinations housed within the centrally located food court. After lunch, we made our way through all of the “young girl” stores that displayed an array of cheap jewelry, poorly constructed clothing, and inexpensive footwear.
As we grew older, we found the bus trip to the mall to be a great way to save on gas money, forget about the hassle of finding a parking spot, and catch up with friends while the bus driver brought us to our desired destination.
Marshall Field’s had a cafe style lunch area that became our new, more mature, lunch hangout. I would always order the Chicken Salad. Their recipe included sweet grapes, crunchy nuts, and moist chicken bits, in a smooth creamy dressing.
Over the years, I’ve tried to mimic the recipe to the best of my recollection. I’ve seen other copycat recipes that include sour cream and Dijon mustard, but this is the way I like to remember the salad. I often substitute the grapes with pineapple for a more tropical twist… And I sometimes serve the chicken salad in a pineapple boat for a dramatic summer presentation. Every time I assemble this recipe, I think about my carefree summer days riding the bus and enjoying the wonderful memories of Marshall Field’s & Company.

Copy Cat Marshall Field’s Chicken Salad

3/4 cup mayonnaise
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 1/2 cups boneless skinless chicken breasts, fully cooked and chopped
1/2 cup celery, finely chopped
2 tablespoons onions, finely chopped
1/4 cup pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped
1/4 cup thompson seedless grapes, halved (optional)
lettuce leaf or plum tomatoes, for serving (optional)

Mix first 4 ingredients together in large bowl.
Add chicken, onion, celery, pecans, and optional grapes. Mix well. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

BBQ Honey Teriyaki Chicken

20130726-213454.jpg
Recently, we had an open house graduation party for my oldest daughter. We were expecting 75-100 people and had made arrangements with a Chicago pizzeria to come to our home with a pizza oven to cook made-to-order pizza upon request. We have had this particular pizzeria here several times over the years because everyone raves about the flavor of their pizza and I love that most of the work is done for me when preparing for a party. I usually make a few salads and desserts while the pizza is taken care of by our pizza guy.
Well, this year things didn’t go so smoothly. We had told the pizzeria that the party was set to begin at 1:00pm and that we would set up an area with tables for pizza preparation and serving. Well, about one hour before the party, I sensed that something was wrong when no one was here to start the oven and prep for the party. I called the restaurant and got no answer. I called a friend of the owner next, looking for a cell number to talk directly to the owner. After a confusing conversation, we realized that the pizzeria had booked us for the wrong date! I was panicked trying to think about how I would manage serving all of our guests with just the salads and desserts I had prepared. Here it was 25 minutes before the party was to begin and we were without our unique main dish. Well, I spent no time worrying and put myself in damage control mode. I opened my huge freezer and found 6 – 3 lb. bags of frozen chicken breasts. I ripped open the bags and threw the chicken in as many roasting pans as I could find. I instructed my oldest son to turn on the outdoor gas grill at the highest heat possible. I have 3 indoor ovens so I turned them all on and popped the pans of chicken in. While my son grilled the first batch of frozen chicken, I tried to thaw the remaining chicken in the oven. I sent my daughter on a hunt to find any kind of bottled marinade available in the pantry. She found Sweet Baby Ray’s Teriyaki Marinade Sauce. I poured it into a bowl and gave my son a brush to slather it on the barbecued breasts. As he pulled the finished breasts off of the grill. I pulled another batch out of the oven and threw them on the grill to finish cooking. We made a fabulous team and within 25 minutes we had made quite a few breasts that were ready for initial serving. I sliced each of the breasts in bite sized pieces to fit on bakery rolls that we had purchased to go with the salads. All the while, my husband was manning the beverage area, greeting guests and refilling drinks. My sister jumped in the car with her husband heading to the local grocery store to fill the shopping cart with an assortment of foods suitable for the buffet. You can ‘t imagine how quickly we worked together. And oh how surprised and delighted we were when our guests praised our efforts and raved about the great tasting flavor of the chicken. After all of the guests said their good-byes and I had a chance to catch my breath, I was thankful for the help of family and friends, good company, and relieved that it was all over. Things have a way of working out. When the going gets tough…family and friends pull together and help each other out. …Can’t wait till next year as we will do it all over again when our twins graduate!

Marinated Teriyaki Chicken

1 3 lb. bag frozen chicken breasts
Sweet Baby Ray’s Honey Teriyaki Marinade

Preheat barbecue on high heat and carefully oil barbecue rack. Lower the temperature to a medium- low setting and place thawed chicken breasts on the grill. Continue to grill flipping breasts to cook evenly. When meat has reached desired internal temperature, remove from grill and slather with marinade to coat completely.

Easy Crockpot Chicken Tacos

20130702-150810.jpg
Oh, how I love when I find a time-saving trick to help me prepare a week-night meal! Last week, I started a new job that takes me into a different time zone in the wee hours of the day and back into my own time zone as I head home from a long day at the office. I am realizing that I will have to stock my fridge and freezer with lots of pre-made items and do lots of cooking on the weekends to keep up with things. The crock pot will probably continue to be my “go to” appliance when preparing easy meals for my clan..
Easy Crock-Pot Chicken Tacos can be popped into the slow cooker in the morning and be ready when the family is looking for something yummy for dinner. A good friend recently shared a variation of this recipe with me, I have added a few things to give the meal a little more kick. The first time I made the dish, I followed the recipe exactly as it was written. My children thought my initial attempt was too bland, so I changed a few ingredients to suit the family. This ooey-gooey meal tastes great packed into tortilla shells or it can be served with tortilla chips as a fun dip. Either way, it’s chocked with lots of vegetables and lean meat. Great for a light summer snack dip of served with beans and rice as a hearty cold weather meal.

East Crock-Pot Chicken Tacos

2 pounds chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1 cup chunky salsa
1 cup Rotel diced canned tomatoes, drained
1 packet taco seasoning
1 cup onions, diced fine
1/2 cup celery, diced fine
1 1/2 cup shredded cheese
3 tablespoons sour cream (optional)

Place the chicken in a slow cooker. Sprinkle the taco seasoning over the meat then layer in the vegetables and the salsa. Pour a half cup water over the mixture, set on low and cook for 6-8 hours. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Pour shredded chicken back into the salsa mixture; mix we to incorporate. When ready to serve, sprinkle with cheese and top with a dollop of sour cream.

20130702-151111.jpg

Crispy Corn Flake (Baked) Chicken Strips

20130626-194615.jpg

When I was in college, my roommate invited me to her hometown to spend the weekend with her family. My roommate’s mother was a wonderful cook, she prepared all kinds of goodies for us to munch on during out weekend visit. On Sunday afternoon, just before heading back to our college dorm, J’s mom prepared these delicious chicken strips with oven baked fries and a fresh garden salad. I thought the chicken was absolutely delicious. The meat was super tender, while the crust was flavorful and crunchy.
Years later, after I had graduated and was ready to start a family of my own, I asked J’s mom for this recipe. Oh, it’s so easy to make these strips…the oven baking eliminates the greasy mess that fried chicken leaves behind. Yet, these delectable strips are crispy and delicious. Once you try them, this might be the only way you prepare chicken for your family.

Crispy Cornflake Chicken Strips

4-6 chicken breasts, boneless and skinless
1/4 cup flour
1 teaspoon seasoning salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 1/2 cups corn flake cereal, finely crushed

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a 15×11″ baking pan with non- stick cooking spray. In three separate mixing bowls, individually place the flour, butter, and corn flakes. Dip the chicken strips in the flour, then the butter, then the corn flake cereal. Place the coated chicken strips on a baking sheet.
Bake 20 – 25 minutes, until chicken is no longer pink. Serve with ketchup, BBQ sauce, or ranch dressing.