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In addition to her monthly Practical Pantry article, Debra Caffrey is the Editor of the Education and Infant E-newsletters for FredParent. She is the proud mom of a middle schooler. Debra is passionate about cooking, meal planning, and smart grocery shopping, and is excited to share her ‘Practical Pantry’ with you.


Practical Pantry

chix rice soupAs much as I love cooking, I’ll admit that it’s harder for me to get motivated sometimes in the dead of winter. It seems like cold weather brings out everyone’s love of baking and hearty favorites like comforting casseroles and hearty roasts, but personally, I’d rather be having picnics outside and firing up the grill in the sun! While winter can certainly get me in a cooking funk, I can still find a little solace in the coziness of being in the kitchen by using some of my favorite tools and techniques. I recently treated myself to a huge and heavy Dutch oven – a multipurpose pot that can do anything. I love it for roasts and stews, but it lends itself perfectly to the ease of homemade soup.

Even if you don’t have a Dutch oven, making a pot of homemade soup is one of the easiest and most economical dinners you can whip up any time of year. The great thing about soup is that the ingredients always yield a bountiful amount. When you pair a great homemade soup with some crusty bread on the side, you not only have a complete meal for the whole family, but a bunch of leftovers, too!

What I love about this wild rice and chicken soup recipe is that it connotes a cozy “guilty pleasure” meal, but it’s actually quite healthy for you! And it could not be simpler. The large hunks of rotisserie chicken meat are satisfying, the vegetables and rice are filling, and the not-too-rich creamy broth allows you to snuggle up with a comforting bowl of hot soup without feeling too much guilt. It’s just an all-around comprehensive easy weeknight meal to enjoy! I may still be dreaming about the beach and barbecues during these cold months, but this soup can provide me with a little comfort along the way!

Creamy Wild Rice and Chicken Soup

• ¼ cup butter or margarine
• ½ onion, chopped
• 3 carrots, sliced
• 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
• 3 celery stalks, diced
• salt and pepper, to taste
• 3 cups rotisserie chicken, shredded
• 4 cups chicken broth
• 1 cup light cream
• 1 tablespoon flour
• 1 cup long grain wild rice mix

Melt butter in large pot or Dutch oven over medium heat and add onion, carrots and celery. Cook for 3 minutes until crisp-tender, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms, season with some salt and pepper, and cook until mushrooms are soft. Add in shredded chicken and broth. In a small bowl, whisk the flour and cream together, then add to the soup. Bring to a boil and add rice mix. Cover and cook for approximately 30 minutes, until rice is tender. Season with salt and pepper. Enjoy!

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Pouches' Community Corner

Cooking Autism

Cooking Autism, Inc. is driven to help children with neurological disorders (including autism) learn how to cook. Participants are encouraged to pick up critical communication skills, learn how to work as a team and be more independent. They can build skills in math, reading, and science, and learn about cooking-related topics such as health and nutrition.