Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

Now that I have a fresh batch of stock, chicken soup is calling me.  I know we are starting to see glimpses of spring and depending on which part of the country you hail from this recipe may even be a tad late (chilly weather, colds, flu -- we have already seen them all) but I couldn't resist. Trader Joe's sells a mirepoix mixture which saves on prep time if that is a concern.   There is something soothing about having a pot of soup simmering and emanating a delicious aroma throughout your home.  I just love it when my husband walks in and says "mmm, something smells good."

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Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

For the Soup:
2 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts or approximately 4 cups of cooked chicken cubed or torn in small chunks (your preference)
1 tablespoon of canola oil
3 1/2 cups of mirepoix (one Trader Joe's container) which consists of equal amounts of chopped onion, celery and carrots
4 cups of chicken broth, divided (I use Trader Joe's organic free range -- a good pantry staple)
1 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon of white pepper
1/2 teaspoon of poultry seasoning
1 clove of garlic, pressed
1 scant tablespoon of dried parsley (if using fresh, wait until serving)

For the Noodles:
1 cup flour
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of salt
2 tablespoons of half and half (or milk)

1) If starting with uncooked chicken breasts -- I like to cut the chicken into bite size pieces while they are partially frozen (as opposed to cooking the chicken and then cutting it up -- which has a tendency to get shredded and stringy) and poaching the chicken in 2 cups of chicken broth.  When chicken is no longer pink drain the broth and reserve for another use, or strain it with cheese cloth and use in the upcoming step.

2) Heat canola oil in a large soup pot, add the mirepoix and pressed garlic, and saute for 3 to 4 minutes stirring often.

3) Add poached or leftover chicken, 2 cups of broth, 2 quarts of homemade chicken stock, and heat over a medium heat for 5 minutes.

4)  Add all of the remaining spices, stir, and turn down to a low simmering heat.

5)  While soup is simmering make the noodles by making a well with the flour, add the egg and salt to the well.  Mix the ingredients to make a dough.  As the dough is starting to come together add the half and half one tablespoon at a time.  The dough should feel like it barely comes together and may even feel a little tough.  That will be fine because the broth will get absorbed into the noodles and they will be great.  Kneed a few times and form a ball and let it rest a minute.  Scrape the counter with a dough scraper at this point making sure the surface is fresh and lightly floured.

6)  Roll out dough as thin as possible without tearing.  The shape doesn't really matter but if you can roll it into a rectangle that would be best.  During the process of rolling it out, pick the dough up and flip it over a couple of times to make sure it is not sticking.  Keep your surface lightly floured as you go.

7)  When you have the dough rolled out as thin as possible let the dough dry for 3o minutes.  Flip it over and dry the other side for 30 minutes.  Then using a pizza slicer slice into 1/8" - to 1/4" strips, then cut the strips in to two inch pieces.

8)  Add the noodles to the broth in such a way as to keep them from sticking together (try using a spatula to lift the noodles off the counter and sprinkle them into the soup, if necessary.)

9) Simmer the soup for another 15 minutes or until the noodles are completely cooked.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Homemade Chicken Stock in a Crock Pot

Recently I have been experimenting with whole chicken recipes with some successes and some failures.  More on those soon.  However, this has left me with more leftover chicken bones than usual.  I have made chicken stock before in a big pot over the stove with wings, backs, etc.  But could I put everything in a crockpot before work, and come home to a delicious homemade stock?  Answer:  yes!

I recently read about the difference between stock and broth on another food blog -- The Perfect Pantry.  I had always wondered about the difference between the two.  Food Network also states that stock is created by simmering bones in water, and broth is made from simmering meat.  Well, I think that is a pretty good way to look at since stock is so much richer/thicker due its gelatinous nature.  (You'll see when it is completely cool -- for new cooks don't worry, when it is heated it melts into a beautiful soup base again.)

I keep a gallon size zip lock freezer bag in the freezer for chicken scraps until I have enough to make a batch of chicken stock.  If you have ever bought a rotisserie chicken from the store, after deboning the chicken, put all the scraps in a freezer bag and you almost have enough for stock right there.  (This was a huge discovery for me -- I always thought that the chicken scraps needed to be uncooked). Sometimes I can find a package of chicken backs for just a few dollars or I will purposely buy chicken breast on the bone and debone it for the breast fillet that I need (see video here), saving the bones in my freezer bag for stock.  When you accumulate the bones of one whole chicken and a couple of backs or bones from a couple of chicken breasts you have enough for stock.   I love the fact that there is  a use for leftover roasted chicken bones, especially when every shopping dollar counts, and the result is a fantastic rich tasting stock.

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Homemade Chicken Stock in a Crock Pot

Bones from a whole roasted chicken plus parts (4 wings, 2 backs, or 2 breast bones with skin)
1 onion quartered with onion skin
1 carrot or a few baby carrots
3 celery stalks with leaves (the center most part of a bunch of celery is perfect)
6 whole peppercorns
1 bay leaf
8 to 9 cups of water (or as much water as the crock pot will hold)

1) Place all of the ingredients in a crock pot and set on low for 6-8 hours
2) Drain liquid into a large container using a colander and throw away all bones, scraps and vegetables
3) Strain the liquid again through a couple of layers of cheese cloth and place the strained liquid in a covered container overnight in the refrigerator
4) The next day, after skimming the top layer of fat off, the stock is ready to be used, for a batch of soup, frozen in a large container, or frozen in 1/2 cup or 1 cup containers for future use in rice, risotto or pretty much any recipe that calls for broth

More resources for homemade stock:
Simply recipes on homemade chicken stock
Bon Appetit on homemade chicken stock
Kalyn's Kitchen on homemade chicken stock (a girl after my own heart when it comes to stock)

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Chipotle Turkey Chili

Have you noticed a new spice in the grocery stores called "ground chipotle chili pepper?"  Maybe I'm a little behind the times, I don't know.  I bought some thinking this might be the trick to spicing up my plain white-chili recipe.  I really liked the results. The chipotle chili pepper added a smokey, earthy flavor that was not overpowering.  The flavor was very satisfying.  Now I have a turkey chili recipe about which I'm truly excited.  There are so many recipes for white chili -- if you want to try one with a bit of a kick, then this is one to try.  This would also be fantastic with ground chicken, plus I love the alliteration of it --Chipotle Chicken Chili :-)

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Chipotle Turkey Chili

1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small or 1 medium onion, chopped fine
3 cloves of garlic, pressed
1 lb. extra lean ground turkey
1 teaspoon of chipotle chili pepper
2 teaspoons of chili powder
2 teaspoons of cumin
1/2 teaspoon of oregano
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional - if you want an extra kick)
3 cans on cannellini beans, 2 of which are drained
2 (4 oz) cans of diced fire roasted green chiles
2 cups chicken broth

1) In a large pot heat oil over medium heat for 1 minute.  Add onions and garlic stirring often for 3 minutes.  Add turkey and chop into chunks with spoon and cook until no longer pink.

2) Add all of the spices, two cans of the drained beans, the chicken broth, and stir.

3) Using an immersion blender or food processor, blend the third can of beans and the liquid until smooth.  Add the bean mixture to the pot.  Simmer the chili uncovered until the spices blend, and your favorite consistency is reached 30 minutes to 1 hour.  Stir ever 10 - 15 minutes.  Garnish with any or all of the following:  cheese, sour cream, avocado, and cilantro.  Makes a nice phase 1 South Beach meal.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Fruit Loop Cup Cakes

Feeling blue?  Bring out your inner child or make a kid happy with these cupcakes that are sure to make you smile the moment you open the oven after 20 minutes.  If you are reading this post, chances are you are just like me and you surf many food blogs.  Well a few days ago I came across a post for these adorable cakes, and I knew that I just had to make them.  I found this recipe at The Crepes of Wrath who got it from the Gastronomy Blog who got it from The Breakfast Cereal Gourmet...whew.  Thank you to all!  I especially liked the idea of adding the lemon zest to the orange zest -- by The Crepes of Wrath.  Well done!

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Fruit Loop Cupcakes

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups flour
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 whole milk (I used 1%)
zest from 1 orange and 1 lemon
1 1/2 cups of fruit loops
powdered sugar

1) cream butter until light and fluffy; add sugar and continue to cream butter and sugar together
2) in a separate bowl hand whip eggs and vanilla together and add to the butter/sugar mixture slowly
3) in another separate bowl sift together flour, baking powder and salt
4) add 1/3 of the flour mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and 1/2 of the milk.  Repeat.  Add the last 1/3 of the flour mixture until just mixed.
5)  fold in zest
6) fill paper cups 3/4 full and sprinkle the tops generously with fruit loops
7) bake at 350 for 20 to 25 minutes - makes 12 cup cakes or 48 minis
8) when cool sprinkle with powdered sugar


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