Chicken Noodle Soup!

Wow – what a change in the weather! It was actually cold enough to wear my hand knits;o) It means I can make soups, chili’s, more baked goods…so many new things!

Speaking of “new”, this is my first time trying this recipe, my first time making chicken stock and the first time that I’m making dinner rolls! I also bought a 12 quart stock pot and a skimmer to aid in making the stock. It’s a multi-pot that came with a strainer insert and a steamer insert. I had a 20% off coupon to use at Bed Bath & Beyond so I was able to save 10 bucks. Anyway, the pot worked great and there was plenty of room to spare. Honestly, this stock was a little bland, but nothing some creative seasoning can’t fix. I was surprised there was no salt called for in the stock recipe – I had to use some to liven the flavor. It was tasty, but not amazing. I’ll continue my search for the perfect chicken soup…

Chicken Noodle Soup Ingredients – adapted from Food Network

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 medium carrots, cut diagonally into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 2 celery ribs, halved lengthwise, and cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, recipe follows
  • 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 handful fresh flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped

Directions –

Place a soup pot over medium heat and coat with the oil. Add the onion, garlic, carrots, celery, thyme and bay leaf. Cook and stir for about 6 minutes, until the vegetables are softened but not browned. Pour in the chicken stock and bring the liquid to a boil. Add the noodles and simmer for 5 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with chopped parsley before serving.

Chicken Stock –

  • 1 whole chicken (about 3 1/2 pounds), rinsed
  • 2 carrots, cut in large chunks
  • 3 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
  • 2 large white onions, quartered
  • 1 head of garlic, halved
  • 1 turnip, halved
  • 1/4 bunch fresh thyme
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

Directions –

Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in only enough cold water to cover (about 3 quarts); too much will make the broth taste weak. Toss in the thyme, bay leaves, and peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Lower the heat to medium-low and gently simmer for 1 to 1 1/2 hours, partially covered, until the chicken is done. As it cooks, skim any impurities that rise to the surface; add a little more water if necessary to keep the chicken covered while simmering.

Carefully remove the chicken to a cutting board. When its cool enough to handle, discard the skin and bones; hand-shred the meat into a storage container.

Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately or if you plan on storing it, place the pot in a sink full of ice water and stir to cool down the stock. Cover and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze. Makes 2 quarts.

My Favorite Pizza Dough

This is the best one I have tried so far! I didn’t have to search long for what I consider to be the best homemade dough out there. I love that it makes a huge four pound batch of dough because I portion the dough out into 16 ounce balls and freeze them to use for the next few weeks. It comes together easily, is tasty and economical – always a bonus! I have to use my giant 6 quart lidded containers to let it double in – those were a great buy. I found them at Sam’s Club in the restaurant supplies section. I have been eyeing some other items there…so tempting! I love shopping for kitchen supplies – I just wish that we had more money to blow on new toys for me…hey, those are the kind of “toys” that benefit everyone.  Our eight year anniversary is coming up, so maybe I will be able to get some things that I wouldn’t normally justify;o) Anyway, enough rambling on about that – here’s the recipe! The directions that Jamie Oliver gives are for hand kneading the dough. I use my standing mixer, so I will tell you how I make it. Thanks for reading, enjoy!

Pizza Dough Ingredients – adapted from Jamie Oliver

  • 5 cups bread flour
  • 2 cups semolina flour
  • 1 level tablespoon fine sea salt
  • 2 (1/4-ounce) packets active dried yeast
  • 1 tablespoon raw sugar
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 1/2 cups lukewarm water

Directions –

If you’re using active dry yeast, get it started proofing in about 1/2 cup of your lukewarm water, all the raw sugar and extra virgin olive oil. While waiting for the yeast to wake up, measure out all your dry ingredients – by weight for the flour is best, then combine them in a large mixer bowl.  Measure out 2 cups of lukewarm water, I always use bottled from our water cooler because of the added chlorine in tap water . Add the proofed yeast mixture and the 2 cups of water to the flour. I stir the mix with my dutch whisk, (you can use your hand or a wooden spoon) then once I have formed a rough dough, I hand knead for about a minute until it becomes a little smoother. Using your standing mixer with the dough hook, knead the dough for 5 to 7 minutes on low until the dough is smooth and springy. Place the kneaded dough in a large, lightly oiled container to rise, then lightly cover the container. Let rest until doubled in bulk – about 1 hour. Weigh and divide the dough as needed. I use Ziploc quart sized bags with a little extra virgin olive oil poured in to prevent sticking. It’s also helpful to write the date and weight of the dough on the bag.

Sloppy Joes

As much as I love having my husband home at dinner time, it’s nice to be able to make things that I know he doesn’t like to eat…sloppy joe’s is one of them. This is my go-to recipe for sloppy joe’s that I first tried out five years ago. It is the only recipe I can remember trying, because I knew my search was over for a  good ‘ol kid friendly, nostalgic meal. It’s really easy to put together and requires ingredients that I almost always have on hand. Little Man M always enjoys this, and S will eat some meat and the bun on the side – she’s my picky eater. Speaking of “buns”, the one’s pictured are the leftover buns I froze several weeks ago. The batch made eight buns and they were so much better than store bought that there was no way I was going to toss the remaining three. They, along with any other breads I have frozen, taste unchanged after hibernating in my freezer. The next time we have hamburgers, I will be sure to make them again and share it with you.  Oh, sorry about the lack of pictures – my kitchen is so dark that sometimes I have to use the flash on my camera – natural light is always 10x’s better! Thanks for reading, enjoy.

( brown sugar not pictured – oops!)

Sloppy Joe Ingredients – adapted from Rachel Ray

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, 1 turn of the pan
  • 1 1/4 pounds ground beef sirloin
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons to 1 tablespoon steak seasoning blend, such as McCormick brand Montreal Seasoning
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 cups tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 4 crusty rolls, split, toasted, and lightly buttered
  • Garnish: sliced ripe tomatoes and pickles

Directions –

Heat a large skillet over medium high heat. Add oil and meat to the pan. Spread the meat around the pan and begin to break it up. Combine brown sugar and steak seasoning. Add sugar and spice mixture to the skillet and combine. When the meat has browned, add onion and red peppers to the skillet. Reduce heat to medium and cook onions, peppers, red wine vinegar and Worcestershire sauce with meat for 5 minutes. Add tomato sauce and paste to pan. Stir to combine. Reduce heat to simmer and cook Sloppy Joe mixture 5 minutes longer. Using a large spoon or ice cream scoop, pile sloppy meat onto toasted, buttered bun bottoms and cover with bun tops. Serve with your favorite sides or sliced tomatoes seasoned with salt and pepper. Have plenty of napkins on hand!