Jan 13, 2011

Chicken Noodle Soup

Another soup for you today! You know how I feel about using what I already have on hand. That's no different with this soup... other than the fact that I usually use one of those pre-made rotisserie chickens. If you want to go to the trouble of cooking up a bunch of chicken then by all means, go for it. But.... this is a lazy meal for me. :)

2 boxes of chicken stock
1 medium to large onion, diced
3 small potatoes, diced
4 medium carrots, diced
4 celery stalks, diced
3 cloves garlic, finely diced
1 whole rotisserie chicken, meat pulled off bones in small shreds
1/2 pkg egg noodles
1/4 tsp dried rosemary
1/4 tsp dried thyme
1/8 tsp dried marjoram
Salt and pepper to taste

In a large stock pot sautee garlic, onion and spices in olive oil. Leave out the salt for now if you're using a prepared chicken, you don't want to have it be too salty. Add in your carrots, celery, potatoes, and chicken. Add in all your stock, and any water needed to cover your ingredients. Simmer for 30 - 40 minutes until your vegetables are tender. If using noodles add these in and cook according to package directions. You can make this with homemade noodles if you'd like. You can also add in a few tablespoons of cornstarch if you'd like a slightly thicker soup. Enjoy!

Cheddar pinwheels (Or anything really)

Ever need an amazing side and not know what to do? Other than my standards of Cheese biscuits and cheese stuffed crescent rolls (think I might like cheese?) I love these bacon and cheddar pinwheels. This recipe does work well with pretty much everything though. Try out some different fillings! Tuna and kale is a favorite of my hubby, we've tried several things. Shredded chicken with a bit of tomato is good too. This is all probably stuff you have on hand... if not... what do you have in your fridge? ;)

Bacon and cheddar pinwheels

1 pkg Pillsbury crescent rolls (reduced fat works, but stay away from the BIG rolls)
8 oz cream cheese, softened
1 tsp fresh chives, chopped (dried works as well)
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 to 1 c. finely grated cheddar cheese
3-4 slices bacon, cooked and cooled then crumbled

Open your crescent rolls. Smush all of the seams together, you're using this as one big piece of dough. Roll out slightly. Combine the softened cream cheese, chives, and garlic powder. Spread this evenly over your dough. Go all the way to the edge, you're going to use all of the dough. Add your cheddar, and bacon. Roll up the LONG way. Your pinwheels won't cook in the middle if you roll the other way. Seal up the edge by pressing it together. Get our your sharpest knife and cut into 1/2 inch to inch long pieces. Place on a parchment lined baking sheet and bake according to package directions. :) These are always a crowd pleaser, try them out!

Cheddar pinwheels
Cheddar Pinwheels

Homemade chocolates a la York Peppermint Patties

A bit late on posting this, my apologies. I made these during the holidays to give out as gifts to people. They look complicated, and taste amazing, but really aren't that difficult. They do however, take quite a bit of time from beginning to end. Make these with any extracts. I used Maple, Peppermint, Raspberry and Orange. You could use coconut, lemon, or any other extracts your choose. The Peppermint is quite a strong flavor so use the 1/2 tsp measure for that. The other flavors, I did end up adding more of the extracts so that they had a strong and rich flavor. Make sure that you adjust and add a bit more of the confectioners sugar to keep the consistency the same. I also added gel food coloring to mine. If you choose to add the coloring add it to the liquids Before YOU add it to the sugar. Otherwise you'll get splotches of color. This needs to be quite stiff, otherwise when you dip into the chocolate they will get melty and end up an odd shape. Onto the recipe!

Homemade Peppermint Patties
from Gourmet Magazine
2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1 1/2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon pure peppermint extract
1 T shortening
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar, for kneading and rolling
10 ounces 70%-cacao bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (Try other kinds of chocolate with different flavors!)

Beat 2 1/4 cups confectioners sugar with corn syrup, water, peppermint extract, shortening, and a pinch of salt using an electric mixer (with paddle attachment if using a stand mixer) at medium speed until just combined. Knead on a work surface dusted with remaining 1/4 cup confectioners sugar until smooth. Roll out between sheets of parchment paper on a large baking sheet into a 7- to 8-inch round (about 1/4 inch thick). Freeze until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove top sheet of paper and sprinkle round with confectioners sugar. Replace top sheet, then flip round over and repeat sprinkling on other side.

Cut out as many rounds as possible with cutter, transferring to a parchment-lined baking sheet. Freeze until firm, at least 10 minutes. Meanwhile, gather scraps, reroll, and freeze, then cut out more rounds, freezing them.

To make chocolate coating:
Melt three fourths of chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan of barely simmering water. Remove bowl from pan and add remaining chocolate, stirring until smooth. Cool until thermometer inserted at least 1/2 inch into chocolate registers 80°F.

Return water in pan to a boil and remove from heat. Set bowl with cooled chocolate over pan and reheat, stirring, until thermometer registers 88 to 91°F. Remove bowl from pan.

A different way to do this would be to place your chocolate chunks into a microwave safe dish and put them in the microwave for 15 second intervals. Stirring after every 15 seconds. When it starts to melt just keep it up. I DID NOT temper my chocolate and everything turned out just fine. So don't be intimidated by this step.

Balance 1 peppermint round on a fork and submerge in melted chocolate, letting excess drip off and scraping back of fork against rim of bowl if necessary, then return patty to sheet. Coat remaining rounds, rewarming chocolate to 88 to 91°F as necessary. Let patties stand until chocolate is set, about 1 hour.

Ingredients for Peppermint Patties
Peppermint Filling
Orange filling
Chocolate Close up

Jan 5, 2011

Split pea soup

I am on a soup kick. It's true. I feel like soup is sort of an unsung hero. I've yet to make a soup that is difficult or ultra time consuming. Granted they simmer for quite a while, but actual prep time is little to none usually.

For most people, the words "split pea soup" will either make your mouth water, or disgust you. If you've ever had it, the mouth watering will start. If you've never been able to experience it then comes the disgust. It doesn't look like the most appealing soup ever... it is green and chunky after all... but this is one case where looks ARE deceiving. Try it. You'll like it.

2 1/4 cups dried split peas
2 quarts cold water, you can substitute chicken or vegetable stock
1 1/2 pounds ham bone
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 pinch dried marjoram
3 stalks celery, chopped
3 carrots, chopped
1 large potato, diced
1 large clove garlic, finely diced

In a large pot or bowl, cover peas with cold water and soak overnight. If you need a faster method, simmer the peas gently for 2 minutes, and then soak for l hour.
Once peas are soaked, drain. In your cooking pot add the peas, water or stock, ham bone, onion, pepper and marjoram. Cover, bring to boil and then simmer for 1 1/2 hours, stirring occasionally. Make sure that you use a pot big enough to really be able to stir the peas around with the onions and ham. Remove bone, cut off meat, dice and return to soup. TASTE!!! If necessary add your salt. Add garlic, celery, carrots and potatoes. Cook slowly, uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. The peas and potatoes make this thicken up quite a bit. By the time you're done this will be almost like a stew. If you would like it to be thinner, just add more water or stock at the end of cooking.

Split Pea Soup
Split Pea Soup Cooking
Split Pea Soup
Split Pea Soup
Cheddar Biscuits
Serve with biscuits.... :D

Ham and Beans

This is my grandmother's recipe. It's the most simple recipe I've seen for ham and beans. While it might be the most simple, it does not disappoint! Make this with your leftover ham bone from your holiday dinners, or go to your butcher, or Honeybaked Ham store and buy yourself a bone. Onto the recipe!

4 cups dried pinto beans, soaked 24 hours (Or 3 or 4 cans worth)
1 lb ham bone (more is ok!)OR just 1 lb of ham
1 tsp salt
Enough water to cover beans

This can be made two ways, in the crock pot OR on the stovetop. In the crockpot just add your beans, ham and water. Leave the salt out until the end, the ham has a lot of salt in it already. Cook on high for 4-5 hours. Pull your ham bone out and remove all of the meat. Cut up and put back into your soup. Add your salt if necessary. Serve with freshly cracked black pepper and some nice bread or biscuits.

On the stovetop, cook your beans until the skins crack about 4 hours. Add your ham bone. Simmer several more hours. Remove ham and cut up and add back to soup. Salt to taste.

Ham and Beans

Ham and Beans