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Hearty Chicken Stew

Food For Recovery

Do you have a secret ingredient you rely on in the kitchen?

This past year a neighbor brought us dinner several days after I had major surgery. She brought us cornbread and a fragrant chicken stew. It was loaded with tender chicken and diced vegetables. The seasoning included a pinch of thyme, adding a subtle and delicious counterpoint to the mellow onions and sweet carrots, enhancing the flavor without assaulting my tender senses.

This unassuming meal tasted wonderful and was deeply appreciated. Food never tastes better than when the body is striving to heal and refuel. When we had finished our meal my husband sent a note of thanks and a request for the recipe that we enjoyed so much.

THE Secret Ingredient

The next day our friend replied:

“Yours is the first e-mail I opened this morning. I am delighted to hear that you enjoyed my simple dinner.

I will be happy to share the recipe. The secret ingredient was Love. I was constantly mindful while preparing the meal with thoughts of healing, recovery and nourishment …”

Neighbors like that are one of the reasons it was so hard to leave Tennessee!

May all our kitchens be stocked with a generous supply of THE Secret Ingredient as we care for and nourish those around us!

Hearty Chicken Stew

1 lb. chicken breast tenders, cut into 1-inch pieces
¼ cup flour
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground pepper
2 Tablespoons butter
2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 medium onion, thinly sliced
2 stalks celery, ¼ inch slices
2 cans (14.5 ounce) chicken broth
½ teaspoon thyme
1 Tablespoon ketchup
2 carrots, peeled and ¾-inch diced
1½ cups yellow or red potatoes, peeled and ¾-inch diced

Combine the flour, salt and pepper in a shallow container. Toss the chicken pieces in the flour mixture to coat.

Melt the butter in a 4 quart pot over medium heat. Add the olive oil. When hot, add the coated chicken pieces. Cook until chicken pieces are lightly brown.

Add onions and celery. Stir and cook another 3-4 minutes. Remove from heat.

Add remaining ingredients. Return to heat and bring to a boil. Lower heat and simmer 15 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.


Quick Collard Greens with Cranberries

I have spent most of my life avoiding collard greens. In my view they didn’t sound good and they didn’t smell good. Gathered in bunches, dog-eared and dirty, they didn’t even look good on the produce aisle let alone cooked at length until they were ladled out in a dark lifeless clump of mushy leaves.

That naive impression was hard to shake until I moved to Memphis, TN. There, as I explored the city, I found collard greens on the menu again and again. Not only were they offered with the city's celebrated staples, like fried chicken and barbecued ribs, but collard greens could be found on more innovative menus as well. In Memphis I learned that while collards don’t always look pretty they are a leafy green with enough character to stand up to a variety of interpretations. I began to seek them out and order them whenever I had the chance. In Memphis I even began to cook with collard greens and made some interesting discoveries.

This recipe offers a quick approach to savoring those homely greens I once judged so harshly. Here collard leaves are cut into thin strips and quickly sautéed with cranberries in olive oil and vinegar. The resulting side dish is bright and tangy with a tender but toothsome texture. It easily feels at home beside Cornbread and Lucky Black Eyed Peas when celebrating the New Year, or with Herb Roasted Chicken or fried eggs anytime.

Quick Collard Greens with Cranberries
Adapted from a recipe in Real Simple magazine

1 lb fresh collard greens (about 8 cups)
1 Tablespoon olive oil
¼ teaspoon ground pepper
¼ teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons apple cider vinegar
½ cup dried cranberries

Wash collard greens. Trim and discard stems and tough stalks from the center of the leaves. Stack remaining leaves and roll up beginning at one long side. Slice the roll at ¼-inch intervals to yield long thin strips of collard leaves.

Heat the oil in a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the collard strips, dried cranberries, vinegar, salt and pepper. Cook and stir until the greens are wilted and tender, approximately 3-5 minutes.