So the Big Feast day gets closer. Tomorrow is travel day to Rochester. That makes today cooking day! I bought the supplies I need to take, and I am preparing dishes to take as well. I will be bringing dinner for the 6 of us tomorrow. Today I will prepare the food and make it portable. With my plan for soup, salad, and bread, I am preparing the food to finish when we arrive. Dinner should be ready to eat in 10 – 15 minutes after we get there.
The meal I am bringing is Lemon Chicken Soup, Tarragon Salad, and bread. I went to my local market yesterday for my last supplies. They have a bakery in the deli department so I ordered two fresh loaves. They will be ready for pick up tomorrow. I bought one more from a local bakery and put that in the freezer.
So the plan looks like this:
- Make the soup stock. Bring the chicken and the orzo pasta. When I get there, put the pot on to boil, add the orzo, lower the heat, and add diced chicken.
- I will wash and chop the lettuce ahead. And I will take the apples, walnuts, and cheese. I usually make dressing fresh but one day ahead is still fresh. So the dressing will be made ahead and carried in a container.
- The bread: I bought two because I am bringing a cheesy spinach dip to put into one.
After bringing the pieces, the plan there becomes:
- Put the soup on to boil.
- Put the spinach dip in a saucepan to warm or a microwave safe dish to warm that way.
- Prepare the salad: toss the lettuce in a bowl, dice the apples, toss in the cheese. I would toss in the nuts next, but Boyfriend doesn’t like nuts, so I will toss everything but the nuts together and take some out for him. (A less than perfect salad! LOL) Then toss the rest with the walnuts.
- Add the chicken and orzo to the soup. Lower the heat to cook the orzo.
- Prepare the bread bowl.
- Come eat!!!
Ah, but you remember I ordered two loaves. I ordered both round loaves. One will be for the dip, with the cut out part as the dipping goodness. The other is to slice and dip in the soup or to just butter and eat.
I am going to talk through all of the recipes; all are so very easy.
Cheesy Spinach Dip
- 1 10 oz package frozen spinach, thawed & squeezed dry
- 1 c grated cheddar cheese
- 1 c grated Monterey jack cheese
- 1 c grated Parmesan cheese
- 8 oz sour cream
- 1 tbsp onion powder ~ here you could grate 1 tbsp of onion in if you are already cutting an onion for something else…
- 1 tsp crushed garlic
- 1/4 tsp Kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp pepper
- 3 dashes hot sauce
There is really no fancy preparation. Put the cheeses, sour cream, onion powder, garlic, salt, pepper, and hot sauce in a saucepan on medium heat. Stir often, until everything melts together. Add in the spinach. Stir it all together and taste a little. If you need to, add a little of whatever flavor you think is missing.
I will cool this and put it away in a container to warm and eat with the soup and salad when we get there.
- Romaine Lettuce
- apples ~ or you can use pears!
- walnuts halves
- goat cheese
- Homemade tarragon dressing: Tarragon Vinegar, mustard, tarragon and olive oil
Again, so simple and luscious. In the summer, Barry and I often eat this salad as a meal with some steamed edamame!
Clean and chop the lettuce. I learned awhile back that the reason my husband hardly ever ate salad was that he hated fighting the big greens and having to cut it. So every salad in our house is a chop salad. I adhere to the belief that the preparation of a salad should allow you to grab a fork and enjoy bite sized pieces. So the pieces are small and the dressing is on it when it is served.
So now you have perfectly prepared lettuce bites, dice up an apple or two, crumble or chop up some goat cheese, and throw on walnut pieces (whatever size you like). Cook’s note: Pears are also delicious in this salad. I am going fall/apple here as per Tammy’s request. Toss with dressing.
For the dressing, whisk a tablespoon or so of tarragon vinegar (If I can find this in my little town, you can find it anywhere!), a teaspoon of mustard, and a small palmful of dried tarragon. Stream in olive oil as you continue to whisk. Taste a little. I have added too much vinegar at times and will put a little clear agave (you could use sugar) in to take the sharp vinegar edge off. We do not like a lot of vinegar, so once more… Make it your own. It is your meal, make it delicious for you!
With a salad I am loathe to give you amounts. Make the salad the size you want or need. This time, for six of us, I have six hearts of Romaine ~ one per person. I will dice up 2 apples. I have a bag of walnuts at the ready. I will likely use less than a cup for the 5 of us. And I have an 8 oz. log of goat cheese. Now this I might use 4 or 5 oz. because we are all cheese lovers. Tailor your salad to your family. Always tailor to your own taste.
Lemon Chicken Soup
- 6 – 8cupschicken broth ~ I use low sodium so I can control the salt
- 1/3 cup of lemon juice ~ about 2 lemons
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 (2 in) Parmesan cheese rind
- 2 carrots ~ diced small
- 1 cup orzo ~ you can use any small pasta you like
- 2 cups cooked chicken breast meat ~ rotisserie is really best here
- 1 cup grated Romano cheese
- 1/4 cup fresh parsley
- Kosher salt to taste
In a large stockpot, bring the chicken broth, lemon juice, bay leaf and Parmesan cheese rind to a boil. Add the carrots and continue to simmer until they are softened, 8 – 10 minutes for me. We like soft carrots; we are not into crunchy soup! 😉
Add the orzo and cook for 4 to 5 minutes. Add the chicken and heat through, a few more minutes.
Remove the bay leaf and the rind and discard them. Stir in half of the Romano if you wish, or keep all of it for serving. Add the parsley last if you are using fresh. (If you use dried, use much less, maybe a tablespoon. If you use dried, you can even add this in the beginning.) Warm another minute to incorporate.
Ladle into bowls and sprinkle cheese on top. Sorry no photo… you know I taking this to go so I am not finishing it today!
This will be a lovely meal. It travels well, and is easy to throw together when we arrive. My thought is to have Boyfriend reheat the spinach dip and ask Tammy to cut out the bread bowl. Once the soup is on, I can toss the salad. Planning!
There is a simple elegance to this meal. The flavors are bright and though it seems light, it will be plenty filling. The night before a Big Feast you don’t want a heavy meal.
I hope you are planning. Time for me to go get into the kitchen. I have stuffing and cranberry sauce to ready also.