The other night John made hot wings. Deeeelicious as they were, he made enough for an army larger than two and so we found ourselves not with a few leftover, but a ton. While we both have a thing for hot wings (this may be the secret to our successful partnership), this leftovers thing was a new problem.
No joke. We have never not eaten all of our hot wings. Never.
We entertained the idea of just continuing to eat them for days on end, but both felt intrigued by the idea of trying to innovate a little with our leftovers. And so we concocted hot wing chicken salad.
We peeled the chicken from the bones (umm…this was tedious), diced up some celery and then mashed it all together with blue cheese dressing. Piling mountains onto squishy buns, we sat down certain that we had just created the greatest thing since chocolate ice cream (ok, I thought it was the greatest thing since chocolate ice cream…John probably was thinking of some other food, though, since he is simply unable to do the things to ice cream that I effortlessly endeavor).
Everything was fine except that we both found ourselves feeling like we were eating these giant piles of mush. Maybe it was the buns (these were like, I don’t know, little fluffy buttery clouds), or maybe we should have made the celery crunch more prominent. Maybe we needed another flavor–onions came to mind for both of us independently. While we maintain that the idea is certainly not at fault, the missing piece eludes us.
I guess we’ll just have to give it another go around the next time there’s a giant tupperware of leftover chicken wings in the fridge…you know, if that ever happens again in our lives.
We’re in the middle of a full-on nor’easter here in New England. It’s been snowing all night and shows no sign of letting up. Peter, S and G are all snug in their beds upstairs while I, chronic semi-insomniac, am up.
I am a fan of winter overall, at least in the beginning. Talk to me in March and I’ll tell a very different story. But today, with the snow falling and everywhere whisper-quiet, and the house feeling as cozy as a favorite sweater, I feel content. It’s a perfect soup day, don’t you think? Just the right antidote for those still crazy enough to shovel their driveways (that would be us, thanks to an odd Luddite anti-snowblower/plow streak in my husband) or for young children who come in fresh from playing in the snow or, if you plan to spend your wintry day indoors (sensibly) by the fire, for just the coziness factor. Nothing warms up the stomach and soul like a good homemade soup.
I’m not sure what I will make later today but soup is definitely on the agenda. I made this creamy leek soup a couple of weeks ago inspired by a recipe in Every Day with Rachael Ray, though, and it was delicious and I offer it up to you in case you’re on the soup prowl. If you don’t have all the ingredients, don’t worry — improvise! Happy slurping!
Creamy Chicken and Leek Soup
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 leeks, white and green part split lengthwise and then sliced crosswise
4 ribs celery, thinly sliced
salt and pepper to taste
1 32 ounce container chicken or vegetable stock
2 cups heavy cream
1 pound chicken tenders, cut into small chunks
1 pound fresh gnocchi
1/3 cup chopped parsley
3 tablespoons dry sherry
1 teaspoon paprika
In a large pot, heat the olive oil. Add the leeks, celery, and salt and pepper. Cook until the vegetables are softened over medium heat, about 5 minutes.
Add the chicken and cook about 5 minutes until the meat is lightly browned. Add the chicken broth and bring to a boil. Stir in the cream and lower the heat to simmer. Add the gnocchi and cook about 5 minutes. Stir in the parsley, sherry and paprika and serve it up.
So, I had plans. Not big plans, but fresh vegetable plans. I was going to make egg noodles with green beans, mushrooms, those little grape tomatoes (I could eat these by the cup) and fresh grated parmesan cheese. It wasn’t going to be fancy, but it was definitely going to be good and I was really looking forward to it.
And then the plague happened.
Not the real plague, but our first full-on, everybody’s-down-for-the-count family-wide illness. I thought I had been sick before, but I now know that you have NEVER been sick until you’ve had a baby (ok, not really…I’m only talking about illnesses that come and go within a week’s time). I did not know what it was like not to be able to sleep all day and all night, waking only to blow your nose or pull the tissue out from your sweatpants that somehow weaseled its way in there while you were snoring (blissfully!) through two nostrils with–yup, you guessed it–tissues stuck in them. I did not know. But I digress…
The byproduct of the arrival of the plague was a complete and utter lack of desire to make the aforementioned dinner. In fact, I can’t even remember what we ate during those days of disease. What I was left with, then, was a bunch of vegetables on the brink of turning.
As I know I’ve mentioned before, we often have portions of homemade chicken stock in our freezer. As of late, I’ve been saving our vegetable bits in a bag in the freezer to, all in the name of letting them accumulate and turning them into soup one of these days. Yesterday was just the day.
M and I thawed the stock, chopped the veggies, sauteed them and combined everything. A sprinkle of that parmesan from the dinner-that-never-was on top, a piece of toast, and I am one happy eater.
(Ok, maybe M was more into her new dinosaur booties than our kitchen project, but I can dream…)
Janet here: One of the stories of my childhood that was told repeatedly around family gathering dinner tables — sometimes to great embarrassment, depending on my age and who was at the table — was of me and my grandmother Doree’s potato salad. I really loved my grandmother’s potato salad. I mean really loved it. One day while visiting my grandmother when I was around 4, I decided I didn’t want to wait until it was time for dinner to dig into this delicious concoction. So I wandered out to the kitchen, climbed up on a chair and dug in, using the serving spoon that was already in the salad. I was a happy camper … until my grandmother discovered me and put a stop to the dining — and promptly told all the relatives who were there what I was doing. And so a family tale is born.
I’ve basically been trying to recreate that potato salad ever since. I pay attention to potato salads at restaurant and am quick to dismiss the substandard mayo-y glop that passes for potato salad after one bite. My mom made a good version, but nothing has quite equaled the ambrosia I remember from my childhood. I’m not sure I’ve recreated Doree’s version, but I’m pretty happy with the one I have created. I hope you enjoy it too. As with many of my recipes, these measurements are approximations. You should feel free to add or delete, depending on your taste. After all, isn’t tasting what you’re making part of the fun of cooking?
makes about 8 side servings
4 Russet potatoes, skins on, and diced into bite-sized pieces
1 medium onion, diced
3 celery stalks, slit lengthwise and diced
2 kosher dill pickle spears, slit lengthwise and diced
1 tablespoon kosher dill pickle juice
1 tablespoon mustard
1/2-3/4 teaspoon caraway seeds
1/4 cup mayonnaise
salt and pepper to taste
Boil the potato pieces until just done, about 5-10 minutes. You don’t want them overcooked or you will have potato mush
While the potatoes are cooking, dice the onion and celery and place into a large bowl. Add the other ingredients except the salt and pepper.
When the potatoes are done, drain and rinse immediately in cold water to stop the cooking. Add the cooled potatoes to the other ingredients, toss and add salt and pepper to taste. I like my potato salad crunchy so at this point, I take the first of a few (okay maybe several) bites to make sure I’ve got enough celery in there. If not, I add another diced stalk.
This is best served cold so make it ahead of time. I always taste again before serving to see if I want to add more caraway, mustard or mayo — at least that’s my story and I’m sticking with it.
Rachel here: Ok, so before I go any further, I just have to say that my ma makes seriously grubbing potato salad. Growing up, I used to eat it with my fingers out of the fridge when I’d walk through the kitchen. I think I’m going to have to make her make it for me when she comes out to visit and meet the baby.
But anyway, I didn’t make potato salad and so, though I’m dreaming of my mom’s, I guess I’d better share the salad that I did make. I’m calling it Spring Bean Salad, though if you live in a less temperate climate it might really be a summer bean salad depending on when the various ingredients I use come into season. Regardless, it’s a super easy and delicious dish. And, though it’s not my ma’s potato salad, I’ve still been picking at it when I walk through the kitchen all day.
3 c. cannellini beans (if using canned, rinse and dry well; if cooking them yourself, be sure not to overcook)
1/2 c. kalamata olives, halved
2 medium cucumbers, chopped
1 smallish red onion, diced very small (but not minced)
4-5 large basil leaves, torn (I tear basil instead of cutting it because cutting it releases its delicious oils onto your knife and cutting board. When torn, everything ends up in your food.)
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
1/2 c. feta, crumbled
8 oz. mozzarella, chopped
juice from 1 large and 1 small lemon
salt and pepper
apple cider vinegar
Put all of the ingredients from the beans through the mozzarella in a large bowl. Toss by hand (this is a gentler way to combine ingredients and will help everything hold up since there are largely soft foods involved). Add lemon juice, salt and pepper, olive oil and apple cider vinegar to taste. Toss well and adjust seasonings. Refrigerate for a few hours so everything settles. Enjoy!