Chicken Soup

chicken soupI just love chicken soup, the way way my grandmother Asunta and my father Tony used to make it. You can use any pasta you want but, I am partial to bow ties(farfalle). They always used the little tiny balls called Acini di pepe. There are no rules as in most dishes. I used all the veggies I had on hand in the fridge. I have left out the tomatoes before and added potatoes, thickened it, and made stew, with dumplings. My gramma used to use rice instead of pasta, quite often. Make it how you like. This version is really awesome and I am quite certain you will love it if you make it. I found out that my nephews family was sick, so I decided to make it and get it over to them as soon as I could. This soup came together from start to Finish in exactly 2 hours. I didn’t need all of the chicken so I cut off a breast and saved it. Tomorrow for lunch we will have chicken salad sandwiches. Or you can freeze it for another meal. One more thing…if you feel like being thrifty, save the carcass, bones and fat from the chicken. Either freeze for later or put in a pot with water, celery, bay leaf, onion, peppercorns, and a carrot. Simmer it for 4-6 hours, strain it and you have your own chicken stock. I bag it up in ziploc freezer bags and freeze.

Chicken Soup

1 whole all natural chicken 2.5 lbs or bigger
2-32 oz. boxes organic chicken broth
Place chicken into a large covered pot with the broth. Boil on medium for approx 1 hour and 15 min or so.
In separate pot on med high heat…
1 c. Diced onions
2 c. Diced carrots
1 c. Diced celery
1/2  c. Olive oil
Cook 20 minutes add…
1 to 1 1/2 cups of diced leeks
2 c. Chopped kale, stems removed
Cook another 20 minutes on low with a 1/2 c. Chicken broth, cover the pot. After 20 minutes shut off. Add…
1 c. Fresh spinach stir in and cover, set aside.
When chicken has cooked, pull it out of the broth and let the chicken cool so you can debone it. Reserve one breast for chicken salad or sandwiches, unless you need it in the soup. Leave the stock simmering
Add 2 c. Water
Add 1 box of Pomi chopped tomatoes 26 oz, bring to a slow boil again
Add 1 3/4 c. of mini farfalle pasta or whatever you like.
Cover and simmer on low 20 minutes, turn off.
While the pasta is cooking, debone and cut up chicken.
Check the flavor of the broth and add better than bouillon chicken base 1 tsp at a time. I added 3 tsp. base.

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Add the cut up and deboned chicken meat
Add the vegetables, stir and serve. If I had fresh parsley, I would have put that in. Soups on, Now enjoy!
chix soup

Broccoli Quiche Party Bites

broccoli quicheI have never served these without everyone just raving about them. Even men, apparently eat mini quiches, haha! On Christmas Eve, every year I make 48 of these little gems. Usually I make 12 crabmeat or lobster, 12 spinach and bacon, 12 broccoli, and 12 whatever else I have on hand! If you want a different kind just replace the broccoli in this recipe for any other ingredient. They are so delicious and I love when they are left over. Whatever is left at the end of the night, I always scoop them up for breakfast and snacks the following day. They reheat in the microwave in 8 seconds. I make them a lot throughout the year. They are awesome for any occasion. The worst part of making them is cutting the dough to fit in my little square pans. I cut 2.5″” circles and then shape them into a square, press them into the pans and then fill. You have to be careful not to overfill them or let the egg drip down behind the piecrust because they stick. They still come out okay they just don’t look perfect when they stick. I found these pans at Target, they work great for so many things, muffins, brownies, cupcakes, mini appetizers of all kinds. You have to have these pans. I have bought 3 of them because I make so many of these at once and it saves me lots of time.

Broccoli Quiche
Bake 15 minutes ~ preheat oven 350 degrees ~ makes 12

1 roll Already made Pie Crust, floured and rolled out very slightly thinner
you will only be able to cut out 10 circles, pick up the scrap and roll out again to achieve 12 circles.
Fit the circles into the pans making sure they have been stretched into a square shape and just make it to the top of the pan. If the piecrust gets ripped, patch with dough.
quiche in pan
1 cup of fresh steamed broccoli, chopped into small pieces
1/2 cup shredded cheddar and mozzarella blend cheese
2 slice of white american cheese cut into small cubes 16 per slice

In each pie crust place a few pieces of broccoli in bottom
next take a pinch of shredded cheese and sprinkle in
divide up all of the pieces of the american cheese and sprinkle in each crust

3 xtra large eggs beaten
3/4 cup of light or all purpose cream or whole milk

Beat these in a pourable measuring cup.
Now pour just enough egg mixture into each quiche slowly, until it just comes a little below the top of the crust. It takes a second for the egg to work its way through the filling so pour slowly. Overflowing makes for tough removal of each quiche. Bake for 15 minutes, remove and cool. Serve immediately or refrigerate for use the next day. They reheat perfectly well on a flat sheet pan, pop in the oven for 8-10 minutes on 375 degrees and you’re good to go.

Braised Short Ribs

IMG_0416We were given some short ribs by our friend Cindy. She was having trouble cooking them and decided to give them to us. Brian cooked them up and we were in awe, so good. So, we passed on the recipe to our friend and she cooked them. We no longer receive anymore short ribs from their cows. Now we have her and her husband raise cows for us so we can get our own short ribs. This recipe is very easy and the ribs are just falling off the bones and the sauce is so flavorful. Served on pappardelle pasta is my favorite way to serve this dish, but it would be great on any pasta. If you prefer potatoes, just throw them in the pot an hour and half before its going to be done and it will be awesome. Rice would be great also, especially sticky white rice or my favorite sprouted brown rice by Annie Chun. The other thing I would like to add. This dish is very adaptable. If you like turnips or any root vegetable, add them. Whatever you like, then add it. Just consider the cooking time. For instance, I would love frozen peas in here, but you would only want to add them 5 min. before serving.

Braised Short Ribs
Cooking time 4-5 hours stove top. Crock pot 7-9 hours

4 sections of beef short ribs with 2-3 ribs per section
3 tbsp. olive oil
1 c. diced celery
1 c. diced carrots
1 c. diced onions
1/3 c. Olive oil
2 bay leaves
3-4 garlic cloves minced
3 c. Beef stock
1 c. Red wine any dry wine you would love to drink.
1 box Pomi diced tomatoes
4-6 large carrots peeled and cut in half
1 lb pasta
optional: 4-6 small potatoes peeled and left whole. If you have large potatoes cut them into 2-3 pieces, you just want them to be the same size so they cook evenly.
1 can white beans, great northern or white kidney.

Directions:
In the pot you plan to cook this dish in…
add 3 tbsp olive oil and get the oil very hot. Med high heat.
Season the short ribs with salt and pepper and brown on both sides.
Remove the ribs and set aside.
Add the diced veggies and the 1/3 c. Oil
Cook the veggies for 7-10 minutes,
add the minced garlic, cook 1 minute
add the beef stock, red wine, bay leaf and tomatoes
add the short ribs back to the pot, submerge them into the liquid
Cover the pot and cook on med heat for approx 2 hours, stirring frequently. If you find that there is sticking on the bottom of the pan, lower slightly to prevent burning.
After 2 hours add carrots and potatoes
Cook on med heat or a tad bit lower for 2 more hours.
Remove bay leaves and discard
Add rinsed white beans, stir in and let sit 5 minutes to heat through.
20 minutes before done, boil pasta and serve over pasta.
The flavor should be great, but if it isn’t add a little “Better than Bouillon Beef base”. You most likely will not need it.  And remember every great meal deserves a great glass of wine. My personal favorite, again…Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon…Enjoy!

 

Pumpkin Chip Whoopie Pies

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These are phenomenal. Super moist and very tasty. I got this recipe from Pinterest and, of course, I tweaked the recipe a tiny bit. Loved the cake, just added the miniature chocolate chips. The filling was too cream cheesy so, I reverted back to my filling from my whoopie pies and added half the cream cheese. They turned out very well. My
mom who says she hates whoopie pies loved them.

Pumpkin Chip Whoopie Pies
Original recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking
Preheat oven to 350 ~ Bake 10-14 minutes~ makes approx. 20

3 c. all-purpose flour
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
2 Tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1 tsp. ground ginger
1 c. oil
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 c. white sugar
3 c. pumpkin puree
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1/2 c. mini chocolate chips

Lightly spoon the flour into the measuring cup and level with a knife. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat together the brown sugar, white sugar, and oil. Add the pumpkin puree and mix well. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix well. Slowly add in the flour mixture and mix until combined. Fold in chips! Using a standard size ice cream scoop, drop onto an ungreased cookie sheet and bake 10-14 minutes. Cool and fill.

Cream Cheese Filling

4 oz. cream cheese
4 c. Powdered sugar
1/2 c. Shortening
1 tbsp vanilla
2 egg whites

To a bowl add the egg whites, beat until frothy 30 seconds, add vanilla, shortening, cream cheese and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Add 1 cup at a time of sugar until fully incorporated. Fill the pies.

pumpkin whoopie dozen

Whoopie Pies

whoopieEverybody loves a good whoopie pie. I’ve recently started branching out from the usual suspects, chocolate cake with white filling. There are so many things you can do to really spice them up. I have been making the same recipe for 30 years. That just sounds so wrong, that I could possibly be old enough to be doing anything for 30 years. When I began experimenting with recipes, I could not find one that Brian and I liked. So after many trials, I found the correct creme filling and the the right cake and two recipes became one. The filling has eggwhites in it, so when ever you make a recipe that calls for egg yolks, always save your whites, because this is one of those recipes you get to use them up in. You can spread just about anything on the cake before filling, or swirl whatever you like into the creme filling. Personally, I like the plain ones best, but I love making a variety of different pies on a platter. You always get the ooos and ahhhs when you walk in with the most enticing tray of pretty sweets. Use your imagination, and create a masterpiece. Rolling the edges in something creates a pleasing look. I rolled the edge of the peanut butter filled ones in chopped reese’s cups for a more dramatic presentation. This week I made raspberry filled, peanut butter filled, and plain.  As well as pumpkin chip cream cheese whoopie pies, which I will post next.

Whoopie Pies
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake 6-8 minutes makes 10 large

Cream with electric mixer or kitchen aid mixer
1/3 cup shortening
1 c. Sugar
In a separate bowl
1 c. Warm milk
3 tbsp cocoa
1 tbsp vanilla
Mix well and add to the sugar and shortening, while mixer is on.
Add:
1 egg
1 tbsp oil

In a separate bowl
2 c. Flour
1 1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
Add 1/2 c. at a time to the mixture until all incorporated. Do not over mix.
Scoop with an ice cream scoop onto ungreased cookie sheet, cool and fill.

Creme filling

4 c. Powdered sugar
1/2 c. Shortening
1 tbsp vanilla
2 egg whites

To a bowl add the egg whites, beat until frothy 30 seconds, add vanilla, shortening and 1 cup of the powdered sugar. Add 1 cup at a time of sugar until fully incorporated. If you desire to make a flavored filling, add it now or divide your filling up and make different flavors.

Heart shaped Almond-glazed, lemon poundcake with raspberry filling! ♥ ♥

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Lemon, Raspberry, and Almond, simply make me happy. This little delight was made with a poundcake mix. The recipe on the box is all you need to follow, just omit 1/3 c. of water and squeeze 1/3 cup of lemon in it’s place. I happen to have mini heart shaped pans, so I baked these in honor of St. Valentines Day. I sliced them in two layers and used Cascadian Farms Raspberry Spread in between. Made an almond glaze for the top and that was it. I also, used some of the batter to make a mini bread loaf pan, and followed the same process. Super easy, and super delicious.

Glaze
1 c. confectionery sugar
1-2 tbsp milk
1/2 tsp almond flavoring

Eggs Benedict

eggs benedictWhen Brian and I first got married, he was attending Culinary School.  He was also working at the Center of New Hampshire, Holiday Inn in Manchester NH, as a Saucier Chef. Being newly married, he was very eager to please me and quite often he would make me my favorite breakfast, Eggs Benedict. It was years before I had ever been served that breakfast again, haha! Life got busy and pampering each other took a back seat like most relationships. After the kids were grown and gone the Eggs Benedict starting making an appearance again on Sunday mornings, often. So, today I am posting a wonderful and easy recipe for you to make at home. The hollandaise is Ina Garten’s recipe. After years of making hollandaise and needing two people to make it, I found her super easy blender hollandaise and now I can make it, all by myself. One thing I do differently, is I use salted sweet cream butter and I leave the salt completely out. It comes out perfect. Also, don’t use a Cuisinart, there aren’t enough RPM’s to emulsify the sauce, you need a blender. One more tip, the butter needs to be really warm, not boiling, but close, and pour slowly, with the blender running. My other favorite thing my little chef hubby used to make me, many moons ago, that calls for hollandaise is Beef Wellington. That unfortunately has not made an appearance in the last decade or two! Maybe, Valentines Day <3 <3 <3

Eggs Benedict

2 english muffins
4 eggs, poached
Ham or canadian bacon
Hollandaise sauce
Homefries (see my recipe for sea salt and pepper Slab Fries)or make your favorite recipe!

First, get the homefries in the oven, put on a pan of simmering water, almost boiling, for the poached eggs and then prepare the Hollandaise sauce. When the home fries have about 6 or 7 minutes left on the timer, put your eggs in the boiling water, what you see in the picture, are poach pods, they are super for making eggs. Put the whole pod with the egg in it into the simmering water and cover with a lid. They only take 5 minutes for a runny yolk and longer for a more firmer yolk, use a large spoon to un pod the egg. During the time that your eggs are poaching, toast your english muffins, pull your eggs out of the water and dip the ham for a about 5 seconds in the water. Lay the ham on the english muffin, next the egg, then a generous scoop of hollandaise sauce. Potatos on the plate and you are ready to eat this scrumptious breakfast.
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Hollandaise Sauce
The link above is for Ina Garten’s Hollandaise sauce. The recipe below is, slightly different.

2 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature
1½ – 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
pinch freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) salted sweet cream butter

Place the egg yolks, lemon juice,black pepper, and cayenne pepper in the jar of a blender and process on low for 15 seconds. Melt the butter in a small saucepan until it is sizzling hot. Remove the small clear insert in the top of the blender. With the blender on low, slowly add the hot butter to the egg and lemon mixture and blend for 30 seconds, until the sauce is thick. Use within 15 minutes to 1/2 hour. If you need to buy time, keep the sauce warm, right before serving blend again, add one teaspoon of hot water if too thick.

Creamy Corn and Bacon Chowder

IMG_0400I’ve always loved corn chowder, but rarely make it. My son, Eric was the only one in the house that liked it and now, he lives in Texas. It was a treat to finally make this again. It came out so yummy, that I may need a nap. Yup, I over indulged!  With the snow coming down, I must say, it’s a perfect day for creamy corn chowder. I will need to be making some soup deliveries, hopefully the roads aren’t too bad.

Corn Chowder
7 qt pot ~ serves 8 ~ prep time 40 minutes

4 1/2 c. diced potatoes
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 c. chopped raw bacon
4 cups of frozen whole kernal corn, thawed
1/4 c. flour
1 c. half and half
1/2 stick butter
3 tsp. Better than Bouillon Chicken Base
3 TBSP Honey
fresh parsley
salt and pepper to taste
optional-1/2 cup heavy cream
optional-minced or granulated garlic

In a 7 qt. pot
add:
4 cups water
4 1/2 c. diced potatoes 1 inch cubes, peeled. As the soup cooks the potatoes will wear down to smaller chunks, so start with a bigger dice. You can always cut them when eating.
boil 20 minutes until tender
remove 1/2 cup of cooked potatoes, set aside to cool for a few minutes

In a Saute pan, cook until bacon fat has rendered and onions are translucent
1/2 onion diced
1/2 cup chopped raw bacon, about 4 slices
Add to the pot with the potatoes
Add 3 c. whole Kernal corn, I use frozen and thawed

Grab a blender
add:
1 c. half and half or heavy cream
1/4 c. flour
1 c. whole kernal corn, I use frozen and thawed
1/2 stick of butter, cut into 8 pieces
3 tsp. Better than Bouillon Chicken Base
3 Tbsp Honey
warm potatoes
Blend until pureed
add to the pot with potatoes, corn and bacon.
Bring the soup almost to a boil and stir constantly, but gently.
The flour will start to thicken up your soup. When the soup has cooked for about 15 minutes.
Stir in:
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp salt
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley

At this point, you would adjust your seasoning and thickening. If you want more salt and pepper add it. If you like it thicker, than you can take 1/2 cup of heavy cream and whisk into it 1-2 tbsp of flour until dissolved. Add to the pot and stir until dissolved, simmering on med. heat.

I know 1/4 tsp. doesn’t seem like much salt, that’s because the chicken base is where the salt is. Be careful when adding chicken base and salt, because it doesn’t take much to over power it.

This is for David! Enjoy!

Juicing, Smoothies, or a Combination

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IMAG0751Drinking a smoothie every morning is great for many reasons. First, it’s a no brainer, which in the morning I need. I know what I’m having, it’s easy to prepare, and if I am running late it, travels well. I actually prefer, juicing in the morning, it seem so much healthier. But, I hate cleaning the juicer and you have to buy alot of vegetables and fruit, no really, ALOT. Then there is the guilt of all that pulp left behind. 🙁 One time I looked on the internet for recipes to make muffins with the pulp. The person who posted a recipe said they were so delicious and that her husband loved them. YUCK! I love it when I waste all my time, ingredients and electricity to make a crappy recipe. Now I just give my friend the pulp and her chickens eat and love it.  I think juicing is healthier, because it can be made with more veggies and less fruit. When you make a smoothie, you can’t puree 3 jumbo carrots into your smoothie. At best you are probably only going to get 2 inches of a carrot. And whats the point of that. So, I have begun making smoothies with juice. Yes, its double the cleanup, but at least I know I am getting some quality ingredients in my smoothie. I start with 4 large carrots(or 6 med). That yields me 8 oz of carrot juice, 4 oz. for Brian and 4 oz for me. Than I throw in 2 apples and divide that. I peel 2 oranges, one for juicing and one for the smoothie. Now I have 8 oz. of liquid for each smoothie. Plus we add 2-3 more oz. of coconut water.
Now for the smoothie ingredients, 1 big handful of spinach, 1 orange, 1/2 c. blueberries, a couple of each strawberries, blackberries, cranberries, mango chunks, peach chunks, cherries and whatever else you like. Now for the nuts, 1 tsp of flax, 1 tsp chia, 1 tsp hemp seeds, 1 tsp cocoa nibs, and 1 small handful of raw almonds, walnuts or cashews. Put the juice, the fruits and veggies and the nuts in the Magic Bullet or blender and blend. I feel pretty happy after consuming this 18 oz cup of pure health every morning. There are no rules, you can add whatever you want, sometimes I just do spinach, blueberries and cocount water. It’s all good! If I never eat another healthy thing for the rest of the day, I’m usually fine with it, because I know my breakfast was great. Also, it gives you a boost that coffee just doesn’t give you. I still drink my coffee but, later in the morning. As for all those fruits, they sell this stuff in freezer section, regular and Organic. Make your morning shine!

Zuppa Toscana

zuppaAs published in a magazine by Olive Garden! It really is the real deal. Obviously, it will always taste a little different, unless we knew exactly what brand of sausage they use, and we do not. So, use the sausage you love and it will be great. My lovely Aunt Carmela, cut the article out of a magazine, and mailed it to me during the restaurant days. I used to call it Sausage, Potato, and Kale soup. This soup recipe always made my good friend Trish, so happy when I made it. One thing I recommend to you, for various reasons is, when you open a pound of bacon, always pull out two slices and chop it and freeze it in a baggie. It really is handy when you want to make this soup or another recipe I will be posting later. The thing is, when we go out and order breakfast, we usually get two slices of bacon with a breakfast, right! But, when we are home and we cook a pound and we always eat 4-5 slices. So, do yourself a favor and eliminate 2 slices from your temptations and save them for a later date. Besides it blows, when you have to buy a whole pound for a recipe. The other thing that’s nice is when you buy a package of sausage, you always get 6 links and you only need 3 for this soup. Now, you can freeze the other 3 and you have another batch ready from the freezer, all you need is the Kale. I’d like to recommend you seek out the Organic Kale, it has become readily available at most of the stores I go to and it doesn’t add a chemical flavor to your soup! However, in a perfect world, I recommend you buy, organic potatoes, no nitrate bacon, all natural sausage, and organic Better than Bouillon chicken base too. Enough said on that subject!

Zuppa Toscana
serves 8-10 people

3 Links Hot Italian Sausage, remove from the casing and cook and crumble while cooking
3/4 c. chopped onion
2 slices chopped bacon chopped
saute sausage, onions, and bacon until onions are translucent and bacon fat has been rendered down
add:
2-30oz box or Organic chicken broth OR use 8 cups of water and season the water with Better Than Bouillon Chicken Base.
3 medium potatos or more if you like a lot, cubed into 1″ cubes
2 cups chopped Kale, I like alot of kale and use the whole bunch, but you dont have to. Remove the stems and discard. Chop the leaves into small pieces.
Cover the pot and cook over med high heat for 25 – 30 minutes until potatoes are tender.
turn off heat
add 1 c. heavy cream
add 1/4 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
Taste the soup, if it needs flavor add chicken base.
stir and serve with crusty rolls.