Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Use It Up: Pennsylvania Dutch Tetrazzini

Earlier this week I made a huge pot of chicken stock.  I'd covered the broth and put it in the fridge and meant to de-fat it the next morning.  But that didn't happen!  I ended up leaving the broth in the fridge for 2 extra days.  It was a beautiful broth so I scraped off all of the fat and double strained it into a large stock pot.  I brought it up to a boil and removed all of the "scum" which is actually all of the impurities.  As the boil rolls, you may find some more impurities, but you can discard the foam.  You'll be left with a clean broth.  

I boiled 1 1/2 bags of wide Pennsylvania Dutch noodles and set them aside.  Next, I melted 1 stick of butter in a large pot, added 1/2 C flour and 7 C broth.  I added 1 C milk and cooked it so it was a nice sauce.  You do this by whisking constantly until it boils.  Let it boil for 1-2 minutes.  Then, I added the noodles, some leftover meatballs (about 10 pre-cooked, frozen) and 1 package of frozen peas.  Mix together in the stock pot and pour into 2 large pyrex dishes.  I covered the top with breadcrumbs and cheese and baked for 1/2 hour at 375.  Easy 1 pot meal.  

Since I already had everything this was practically a free meal.  I bought the noodles on sale for $0.98 each and used 1 1/2 bags ($1.50.)  The peas were about 1 dollar and let's say the meatballs were worth two dollars (probably less) so that's $4.50 for 2 large trays of food.  One can be frozen or given away.  This meal is packed with protein, minerals, and essential vitamins and you know how I feel about the benefits of bone broth!  

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Autumn Updates

Autumn is such a beautiful season!

Here's what it looks like around here:

I bought a cute little spider web cake pan for Halloween . . .

I made the cake from scratch, but bought orange candy corn flavored frosting and black and orange icing to decorate.

For a while, I had more apples than I knew what to do with so we ate them twice a day!

Then we made some apple crisp  . . .

and some hot pumpkin spice tea  . . .

I made a batch of Sally Clarkson's apple-pumpkin streusel muffins.  I didn't change a thing about this recipe and the grated apple in these muffins takes a little extra time, but it's worth it!

This is how they came out:

I made a bunch of these muffins and sat them on the kitchen table

where they lasted less than a day!

Been feeling the urge to decorate for the season as well  . . .

and make soup.

This is easy lentil soup.  1 lb. lentils, 10 cups water, 1 packet Goya chicken seasoning, 2 handfuls of fresh, baby spinach, and 10-15 ready cooked meatballs (I buy these at Costco.) This will be dinner tonight.

We're still working on Prince Caspian - up to chapter 12 now!  In between I read some wonderful picture books.  One I really liked was called The Snow Goose.

Happy blustery fall!

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Apple Cider Doughnuts

Today is a laundry day.  Well, every day is a laundry day, but today, or, rather, I should say, this morning is a laundry morning.  Laundry is a chore that I really don't mind.  My washer and dryer are in a convenient closet in my kitchen.  I think if I had to lug laundry up and down stairs I would feel differently about it.  I also love having my dryer on the first floor because it heats the house and I need that in the mornings.  It's in the 40's these days so every little bit of heat helps!

Yesterday I roasted two more chickens, made a fun Halloween cake for the kids, and baked a big pan of banana bread.  Today, I'm making apple crisp and orange mousse.  

The weekend was warm enough for me to hang freshly washed linens on the line and let them dry in the sun.  This afternoon might give us a few hours of warm sun so I can hang out some bleached towels.

Last week I found a doughnut pan at a local kitchen store.  I bought two.  The pan is made by Wilton and you can find it here.  I decided to make apple cider doughnuts for the kids because we always end up buying those at the orchard and they are gone in seconds!  I played around with a basic doughnut recipe until I was happy with the results and came up with these cider doughnuts.

I was hoping the kids would like them, and happy because they devoured them.  I've since made 3 dozen and the most recent batch I made at about 8:00 p.m. and my 8:00 a.m. the next morning they were gone!

Here's my recipe:

Apple Cider Doughnuts

2 C. all purpose flour
3/4 C sugar 
2 t baking powder
1/2 t cinnamon
3/4 t salt
3/4 C apple cider
2 eggs
2 T melted butter

For the cinnamon sugar glaze

2 T melted butter and pastry brush
mix together in a separate bowl: 
1 C white sugar
1 T cinnamon

Mix all the dry ingredients together.  Add the cider, eggs, and melted butter.  Spray the pans with cooking spray and fill about half way.  The dough is not like batter, it's like dough so you have to nudge it into the pans a bit.  Bake for about 8-9 minutes.  Remove from the oven and let rest about a minute.  Brush the doughnut lightly with butter and roll both sides in the cinnamon sugar.  Place on a wire rack to cool.

They really are easy.  My kids love doughnuts and they've always been so much work to make what with making the yest dough, rising, frying, etc. and baking them is so much easier and healthier!

You can play around with this recipe too.  I was thinking I might toast some coconut and then put it in the blender and try using that as a coating for my next batch!

Well, that's about it for today, I hoping to get some housework done, keep up with my reading schedule for the kids (3-4 books daily with my 4 year old) and a chapter a night of Prince Caspian for the boys.  I'm about to put a big pot of coffee on and get to work!  

Friday, October 24, 2014

Homemade Beef Stock, Simple Lentil Soup Recipe, and Laine's Letter's Link!

Today it's really starting to feel like winter.  The sky is pewter and the leaves are past their peak.  It's been rainy and windy and cool.  I like the cooler weather, I must say and it's nice to feel encouraged to come inside and take care of indoor domestic duties.  I've been baking up a storm this week.  Bread, brownies, 24 homemade cider donuts, big stockpots full of soup, chicken, bacon, and beef stock.

This afternoon was so cold, I decided to light a candle, run the dryer to warm the house, and put on a pot of my special occasion Susan Branch inspired lavender tea with rose petals.  If you read A Fine Romance, you know what I'm talking about!  I thought the tea sounded so delicious so I described it to my local tea merchant and he made it up for me.  It's a cream earl grey tea with lavender and rose petals and it's as beautiful as potpourri and as fragrant as perfume.  I like to add cream and sugar to it and tastes like dessert!  Oh, it's so good!  This is the perfect beverage to go with a good book.  

As I mentioned above, I've been making a lot of stocks and broths because I've been making so much soup.  I got two large beef bones from the butcher, roasted them, and made them into stock.  I managed to take a few photos for you:

These are the roasted bones

You can add a bunch of stuff, but I added just what I had on hand:  salt, pepper, onions, their skins, and some garlic.

I boil this uncovered for days, adding more water as needed until I have a rice, brown stock.

I strain everything out, put it in a bowl in the fridge overnight, remove any fat, restrain, and repeat again so that I have a fat-free, nutrient rich broth.

Today I'm using it as the base for my easy lentil soup.

I cut up 1 onion, a few baby carrots, and two baby bok choy and cooked them in some butter, then added 1 lb. lentils and all of my stock.  I added some garlic, salt, and lots of black pepper.  Bring it all to a boil, then cover and simmer for about 45 minutes.  So easy, and such a healthy lunch.  I think that consuming real bone broths a few times a week helps to keep the immune system strong.

A good night's sleep and a good sense of humor help too!

I went to the library and picked up two books that I've been wanting to read for a while.  One is a whodunnit mystery and the other is called The Art Forger.  Both look really good.

I've been reading Laine's Letters this past week.  Brenda from Coffee, Tea, Books, and Me posted that Laine's Letters are back so it's just been fun to go through them all.  So much wisdom and old fashioned encouragement in those simple letters.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Loaded Baked Potato Soup - Except Made With Cauliflower Instead!

A couple of weekends ago, my mom took my brother and I out for lunch at The Cheesecake Factory.  She and I ordered a bowl of their "loaded baked potato soup" and it was so yummy that I thought I'd try to make it at home.  Since I'm making a large pot of it, I wanted to see if I could use cauliflower as an alternative to the potatoes because it's a bit healthier and I love the taste and ease of not peeling all those potatoes!  So, here's my recipe!  It takes a bit of work, but not if you have some of these items pre-made such as (a few baked potatoes on hand, some cooked bacon, or even frozen cauliflower.)

Here is what I began with.  Two beautiful heads of fresh cauliflower from the farm up the road.  I did save all of the greens and put them in my freezer to use in stock at a later date.

Wash and chop the cauliflower into small florets.

Set them in a large kettle with a lid to steam.  I filled my stock pot with about 4-5 inches of salted water.  You are going to use most of this water as the broth in your soup so it's better to have too much rather than too little.  I don't really measure the amount, but it's enough to submerge half of the cauliflower while the other half stays dry.  Steam/boil the cauliflower until it's fork tender.

While the cauliflower is steaming.  In a small pan, cook 1 chopped onion with 2 T olive oil, 2 T butter, and 1 T minced garlic.  

Once the cauliflower has steamed and cooled a bit you are going to remove spoonfuls of it with a slotted spoon and add to your blender.  You will need to do this in batches.  And to each batch you'll add a portion of the following:  milk, cauliflower liquid, and parm. cheese.  The total amount of each that will be added in batches is 3/4 C, 2/3 C parm. and about 4 C cauliflower broth.  It took me about 3 - 4 batches to blend everything.  For example, blend the steamed cauliflower with 1 cup of the cauliflower liquid, 1/3 C parm. and 1/4 C. milk.  The measurements don't have to be perfect because everything is ending up in the same pot anyway.  Once it's smooth, pour the mixture into a large vessel that will hold the entirety of the soup.  Continue until all the cauliflower has been blended.  Add the onion garlic mixture to the last batch and blend until smooth.  

After all that blending, you should have a big bowl of creamy soup.  But you're not done yet . . .

Reserve any leftover cauliflower broth in a measuring cup and return the soup to your stock pot.

  Add to it:

2t salt
1 t. pepper
6 slices of crumbled bacon

1/2 t. dry parsley
a handful of shredded cheddar cheese (3/4 C)

 2 baked potatoes, jackets off, cubed and 2 more cups of cauliflower broth.  The potato gives this soup a nice, hearty texture.


Stir, cover, and simmer for 30 minutes.  Taste for seasonings.  

Serve and enjoy!

This is delicious with a salad!  

Here's the official recipe:

Loaded Baked Potato Soup - Except Made With Cauliflower Instead

2 heads fresh cauliflower, chopped, steamed in 4-5 inches of salted water.  Water reserved.

1 large onion, chopped
2 T butter
 2 T olive oil
1 T minced garlic
2/3 C parm. cheese
3/4 C whole milk
2 t salt
1 t pepper
1/2 t dry parsley
6 pieces of cooked, drained, bacon, crumbled
2 baked potatoes, cubed, jackets off
3/4 C shredded cheddar cheese

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Getting The Most From Your Roast Chicken Part 2

So, now it's day two and you have two carved roast chickens in your fridge.  What to do?

Obviously, there are a lot of options, but I decided to make chicken pot pie.  This is more of a chicken and biscuit pot pie recipe and it makes a lot.  I was in the mood for this savory dish and it makes the house smell so good while it's cooking.  This isn't the most low fat of choices, but it's all homemade, and it's all real food.

First off, you need to get as much meat off of your roasters as possible.  Put it in a big bowl as shown above.

Then get to work on your chicken pot pie filling.  The thing I like about this recipe is that you can make it in stages and assemble the whole meal right before you eat it.  You need some chicken stock, onions, flour, butter, and some chopped up carrots if you have them.  In a pinch you could use bagged, chopped, frozen carrots.  I am a big fan of frozen veggies, chopped and ready to go in one pound freezer bags.  

Here's what you need for your pot pie:

Cooked, cut up chicken (a few cups)
2T olive oil, butter, or coconut oil
2 chopped onions
3-4 chopped carrots
6 cups chicken stock
1 1/4 sticks of butter
3/4 C flour
1/4 C whole milk
1 package frozen, chopped green beans
good pinch of dried thyme, salt, pepper, and parsley

Melt the butter and oils (or whatever combo you choose) over medium high heat and add the onions.  Cook for about 15 minutes.  Next, add the flour and whisk into the butter/oil/onion sauce for about a minute until cooked.  Add the chicken stock the the flour mixture and continue to whisk until smooth and thick.  Add the spices and the milk and stir together.  

Next add the chicken and beans

Stir to combine and pour in to a large Pyrex baking dish (13 x 11 inches)

At this point you can cover and return to the fridge and work on it later.  Or, you can get started on rolling out the biscuits:

For the biscuits, you'll need:

2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/2 t sugar
1 stick of butter, diced and cold
3/4 C whole milk

optional herbs and egg wash

In bowl, combine the dry ingredients and mix well.  Add the butter and mix, then add the milk.  You should have a nice, soft ball of dough.  

Roll it out

Use an upturned glass to cut out your biscuits

Place the biscuits on top of the pie filling and brush with egg wash if desired.  I did in the photo - 1 egg + 1 T water = egg wash

Place in a 375 degree oven for 45 minutes

Until the biscuits are golden and the pot pie is bubbly.  I sometimes make an extra batch of biscuits to go on the side.

This is a hearty, comforting meal on a cool, fall night and a great way to stretch your chicken!