Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Anyone want to know how to make these?

Coming VERY soon.... (maybe tonight if I can swing it...)

UPDATE: So sorry to keep you waiting! It is quite simple, but I just don't have time to type it out right now. We are headed out on the open road for the weekend, so perhaps on Monday! Happy Labor Day all!!!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Chicken Noodle Soup with Mashed Potatoes

So, I have not in the past done pictures with my posts. Mostly because I'm not good at presenting or photographing food. But most recipe blogs have photos of the food and so I will make an attempt. I really hope it doesn't drive all my visitors away...ha!

Have I mentioned that I love Fall? I love it when the nights get a little cooler, when you can leave your doors open and the fan on a little longer and when you can make soup to warm the soul! This soup tops the list as my one of my daughters favorite(!) meals of all time. She requests it often and praises it each time I make it. And I can't simply just make Chicken Noodle Soup anymore....I have to make mashed potatoes to go with them. In our house we put them in the bowl first and pour hot soup all over the top.

I know, it sounded strange to me at first too. This is one of those things that came from my husbands family. But trust me, it's worth trying.

Now many of you may be much experienced in the art of throwing together a "Mustgo" soup. (It's been in the fridge for a week and now it "mustgo"...ha ha!) Over the years I have become very comfortable with this type of thing. But it was not always so. There was a time when I was ALWAYS tied to a recipe. But as life gets busier, I've found flexibility is always an asset worth having. So with that in mind here's my "recipe" for chicken noodle soup.

Kristy's Chicken Noodle Soup (or Stew, depending on ingredients)

Chicken - cubed or shredded
Chicken Broth
Onions, peeled and chopped
Carrots, sliced
Celery, sliced
Potatoes, cubed or mashed
Egg Noodles, homemade (recipe below) or store bought
Salt and Pepper to taste

Other things you could add:

Green beans (fresh or frozen)
Squash, cubed
Tomatoes, chopped

OK. OK. I know there are those ought there going "GIVE ME SOME MEASUREMENTS YOU CRAZY LADY!" But honestly, when I make my soup I really just throw stuff in until it seems right. And you too can be free from the traditional recipe. Come one. Give it a try.

So your first step is usually getting the chicken started. Last night I used a combination of left over grilled boneless skinless chicken breast and what was left from a rotisserie chicken we'd had for lunch on Saturday. The grilled chicken I cut up in bit size cubes. If you have raw chicken you can boil it, grill it or bake it, then cube it. I also used the chicken off the bones of our rotisserie. This will also give your broth a nice start. Put your chicken bones in a good stock pot and cover at least half of the bones with water. Boil the bones for "a while", probably a good 20-30 minutes. I usually cover mine. The steam helps to loosen all the meat, especially if the bones aren't completely covered.

Homemade Noodles

It's usually at this point I make the noodles. You can really make these any time before you start. Homemade noodles should have a little time to dry out before you throw them in so you could even do them several hours before dinner.

For my noodles I use the following proportions: 1 egg, 1 tsp salt, 1 TBLS milk (and YES, I used almond milk in these last night...) and about 1 C of flour. For a batch of soup to feed my family (2 adults and 2 children that eat "real food") I would make a double batch of noodles.

You want to mix your egg, salt and milk together first. Then add the flour until you have the right consistency for noodles...a little sticky, like bread dough. Roll them out to desired thickness and cut. I find it easiest to roll it up, make the cuts, then unroll. Let your noodles sit out and dry for a bit before you throw them in the soup.

Meanwhile back on the stove....

When the meat is falling off the bones strain the broth from the bones. In your stock pot heat a little olive oil and saute your onions until translucent. For this batch of soup I used a whole large onion. We like onions. If you don't, I would use a little less. You could probably skip this step if you want and just throw the raw onions into the soup, but I think sauteing the onions 1 - really improves the flavor and 2 - improves the texture. It makes them softer and sweeter, less distinct.

When your onions are nice and soft, put your water you used to boil the bones in back in the stock pot. This will be the start for your broth. Add more chicken broth until you have enough for the batch you want to make. This is where you have to use your judgement. My family loves this and will eat a lot of it. So last night in addition to the broth I had from the chicken I added probably a good 6-8 more cups of broth. I like to add ready made broth because it tends to improve the flavor of the soup. You can used canned broth or chicken bouillon. I don't really have a preference. Last night I used both.

Chop your veggies and add to the soup. You want to make sure and add your crunchier veggies right away because they will take a while to get soft. Carrots are always the first thing I get in there. If you like soft green beans (and you want them in your version) they need to go in quickly as well. Pick all the useable meat off the bones once they are cool enough to handle. Add the chicken to the soup and let it boil until the veggies are desired tenderness. Add the noodles and cook for 5-10 minutes more. Adjust the seasoning and serve over a heap of your best homemade mashed potatoes.

For classic Chicken Noodle Soup stick with the onions, carrots and celery. If you want more of a Chicken Stew that's when I add the green beans and sometimes chunks of potatoes, instead of making mashed. Last night I didn't have celery, so I just left it out and it was still delicious. Just play around with it. Put in what you have and what you like. Anyway you serve it though, there's nothing like a bowl of hot Chicken Soup to let your family know you really care!

(If you REALLY want some measurements, here is about what I would put in for a small pot of soup...enough to feed 2-3 people, with maybe a bowl of leftovers: 4 C chicken broth, 1/2 onion, 2 carrots, 1-2 stalks celery and 2 potatoes. This can be a base and then you can add more stuff as you need.)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

No Bake Peanut Butter Cheerio Treats

These are SO yummy! And a little addicting. I had to remove myself to the other room in order to stop eating them. My husband was skeptical when he saw the ingredients. He didn't think they would work together, but he was proven wrong! (Again ;)! Ha Ha!

Peanut Butter Cheerio Treats

3 TBLS Butter
16 oz bag marshmellows
1/2 C Peanut Butter
5 C Cheerios (Generic is fine)

Spray a 9x 13 pan with cooking spray. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in marshmallows. Heat until melted and add peanut butter. Remove from heat. Fold in Cheerios until coated. Smooth mixture into pan and let sit until cooled (if you can!). Enjoy!

Sunday, August 15, 2010


I don't know about you, but when I saw this movie I was like "What the heck is ratatouille?" So we promptly looked it up on the internet and found a recipe. And it was actually really good! Well folks...it's ratatouille season once more! Ratatouille is basically just a veggie stew type of dish. So it's perfect for this time of the year because it uses all the yummy veggies we have coming out of the garden. Or in my case...from my Bountiful Basket this week! Since this is all in season right now you *should* be able to find this stuff at farmer's markets or the grocery store for cheap. What do you need? Another website suggested the phrase EZ-POT to remember what goes in it AND the order to put it in: Eggplant, Zucchini, Peppers, Onions, Tomatoes.

Oh and can I say that I think that Basil is just really essential in a garden? If you don't plant any other herb, plant basil. I use mine more than I use any other herbs I've planted. And it's easy to grow. Plus it's really expensive if you have to buy it in the store. I think this year I'm going to transfer mine to a pot I can keep in the house 'cause I like it so much...

One final suggestion: you can use the movie as a way to get your kids to try it. It might not look like much, BUT if you can get them to try it, they will probably like it. I also served this with my homemade breadsticks. It was a good night! :)

Simmering Summer Ratatouille

2 TBLS olive oil (I think I used a lot more than this...ha ha!)
2 eggplants, cubed (I peeled mine because I was concerned about the texture of the skin being problematic in this dish...)
2 zucchini, cubed
2 bell peppers, chopped (I used green, but other colors would be yummy too, I'm sure!)
1 large onion, peeled and chopped
3 cloves garlic, peeled and minced (I always use a garlic press instead)
5 - 8 tomatoes, peeled, seeded and chopped (peeling and seeding optional...)
3 - 5 fresh basil leaves, chopped
1 TBLS fresh thyme, chopped (I substituted dried)
salt and pepper to taste

1. Note on eggplant: I always try to work very quickly with this. It browns quickly once peeled and cut open. If you really want to you can put it in water or cover with Fresh Fruit or lemon juice. But in a dish like this it doesn't really matter anyway. So I just work fast. So as you cut your eggplant place it in a colander and sprinkle with sea salt. Let sit for 30 minutes. Rinse the eggplant if desired. Pat it dry. (I actually forgot to rinse the salt off...oops! Tasted great to me, but if your really conscious about your sodium intake you probably should rinse it...)

2. (Skip to next step of you don't care about the tomato skins.) If you want to peel your tomatoes: Fill a large bowl about 1/2 way with water and ice. Boil a large pot of water. Cut small x's in the bottom of the tomatoes. Place the tomatoes in the boiling water for about a minute. Immediately place the tomatoes in an ice bath for another minute. Remove the tomatoes and place in a colander in the sink until they are cool enough to handle. Peel the tomatoes. If you want to seed them also just cut the tops off and squeeze as many seeds out as you can. (NOTE: I peeled 6 of my tomatoes. Then I decided I wanted more in the stew, but didn't want to go through all that again...SO I just chopped them up and put them seeds, skin and all. Couldn't tell a difference...next time I will probably just leave them as nature intended in the first place)

3. Heat olive oil in a large pot. NOTE: While adding veggies, make sure you stir them around frequently to promote even cooking. Add the eggplant and let it cook for about 5-10 minutes. Add the zucchini, cook for another 5-10 minutes. Add the bell peppers, cook for 5 minutes. Add the onions and garlic and cook for another 5-10 minutes.

4. Add the tomatoes and cook until the liquid reduces. You can create a thicker sauce by adding tomato paste if desired.

5. Remove from the heat and stir in salt, pepper, basil and thyme. Adjust seasoning as needed to taste and serve.

Just to warn you, it really does kind of look like a pile of mush. The eggplant gets really soft and isn't a super appetizing color when it cooks. But it is really good. Really. Try it. :)