Friday, October 14, 2011

Alfresco Fall Dinner: Chicken Soup with White and Wild Rice

Joe's birthday found us sitting outside in the cool autumn weather. I developed a special recipe for the occasion: chicken soup with white and wild rice. Served with a fresh green salad and crusty bread, it was a hit with all the family. And by the way, I have found that eating by candlelight after dark is a great way to introduce my children to a new recipe because they enjoy the flavors of the dish without skepticism about any vegetables they might see. If you try this recipe, please let me know how it turns out.

Chicken Soup with White and Wild Rice

I have been wanting to develop a recipe with these flavors for a while, and this one is quick and easy to prepare.
3 chicken breasts
1 tablespoon margarine
1 medium onion, chopped
1 cup mushrooms, chopped
About 1/2 of a large carrot, peeled
Box of white and wild rice with seasoning packet (I used Uncle Ben's)
48 ounce box of low-sodium, organic chicken stock
1 tablespoon cooking sherry
1 teaspoon pepper
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1/2 cup cream

Boil chicken.  In a separate pot over medium heat, cook chopped onion and mushrooms in 1 tablespoon margarine. Add shredded carrot and stir. Add rice and seasonings packet, and bring to boil with water from the pot of boiled chicken. Simmer for about half the time package directions suggest, and shred the chicken. Add chicken stock, cooking sherry and pepper. Bring soup to a boil, then reduce heat to simmer. Stir in chicken, parsley and cream, and heat through. Serve in bread bowls with a fresh green salad alongside.

We surprised Joe with a fire bowl for his birthday, so we tested it by making s'mores. We had our fill of sweets with roasted marshmallows and all the trimmings, so we enjoyed Joe's birthday cake the next day.

With ruffles of buttercream icing, this cake definitely deserved to stand alone for dessert.

To achieve this look, I let a bead of yellow food coloring roll down the inside edge of my decorator icing bag before I filled the bag with icing. I used an angled decorating tip, turned so the food coloring would roll to the short end of the tip. Then when I piped ruffles around the cake, the icing had an interesting colored edge. The intensity of color varied as I emptied and re-filled the icing bag, but the contrast added to the interest of the cake.

A cluster of silk flowers, fresh greenery and candles added the finishing touches.

And everything tasted better enjoyed outside in the warm glow of the fire pit on a beautiful fall evening.

"The fire is the main comfort of the camp, whether in summer or winter, and is about as ample at one season as at another. It is as well for cheerfulness as for warmth and dryness." ~ Henry David Thoreau

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