Easiest Chicken Stock

With only a few weeks left in the year 2017 I can’t be the only person trying to fit in extra shopping, 3 holidays, a few birthday’s a couple of holiday parties and try to remain sane. I think I mentioned having a pretty significant birthday coming up. While you are reading this I should be sitting on a beach hopefully enjoying the sunshine on my face, a book in one hand and a tasty adult beverage in the other. * I meant to  post this one next week – oops! I will be on a beach this time next week! While my husband and I love going on vacations together; it does take it’s toll trying to fit one in this time of year, but I didn’t choose my birth month nor did my husband; his is a month from mine. Oh and let’s throw in our wedding anniversary too.
IMG_5533Sounds like I am complaining but I really am very fortunate to be able to get a break from reality once in awhile. Life gets very hectic around here at times; especially this time of year.
IMG_5532This is probably too simple to blog about but it is SO worth mentioning and I know many people that have never made their own stock and I don’t know about you but I can never have enough chicken stock on hand. I use it for not only soups, stews and gravy; it is a great addition any night of the week. After pan searing chicken breast; it’s a great way to deglaze the pan. You can also flavor pasta and rice by using your homemade stock instead of plain water to boil them in.

This is a great thing to do today so you have some stock on hand that you can use on Thanksgiving!

Simple Chicken Stock
Chicken carcass or bones
2 celery stalks
2 carrots
1-2 onions
Season with salt and pepper to taste

After removing all the meat from your chicken; whether you made it or bought one of those roasters your local grocery makes and sells. Place the carcass in your slow cooker.  Cover with water and add a few stalks of celery; the leaves have flavor too. A couple of carrots roughly chopped and an onion.  Turn it on low before you go to bed and in the morning you have stock.
IMG_5541
Throw away the carcass and veggies and let the stock sit. I cover with plastic wrap and put it in the fridge so the fat will congeal on the top, I remove the fat and then put the “liquid gold” in containers and place in the freezer.

 

 

Tomato butternut squash soup

Pretty much every Friday at work a group of us order lunch out from somewhere in town. How we decide depends on if someone wants to run out and pick it up; which generally isn’t the case so we end up ordering from 1 of the 2 places that will deliver. If we can get someone to run there are so many more options and it is getting that time of year where most places have soup back on their menus.  There is a marketplace in the center of town that makes a mean tomato cheddar soup.  They are kind of “famous’ for it. Or at least here in town they are.  It is only soup that is on the menu every day of the week.
IMG_5520Many years ago one of my co-worker’s and I used to get a bowl of Tomato Cheddar each and split a loaf of their fresh made french bread at least once a month; we did this for a couple of years. The marketplace was sold and the new owner still made the soup it wasn’t quite the same so we stopped going there.  

IMG_5523

I think this looks pretty cool! It makes me smile…

A couple of weeks ago we decided to give it a try. I ordered a cup and was going to forgo on the bread; still trying to eat a little healthier. When I googled the nutrition of a cup of tomato cheddar soup I was shocked and so disappointed. I could eat that little cup of soup but that would have been pretty much it for the day. I had no idea; if nothing else paying attention to macros-protein, carbs and fat. I am trying to make better choices; but being a foodie I will not compromise eating yummy food.
IMG_5525I had heard and seen people on TV use butternut squash in recipes in place of cheese. I know I too was a skeptic. I hadn’t tried anything until I bought a cup of soup I didn’t feel I should eat. The I was on a mission I was going to make a hearty tomato soup that had the love that tomato cheddar has without taking up so much of my fat allowance.
IMG_5528
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 medium or 1 large onion, diced
1 ½ lb butternut squash, peeled and diced
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
4 cups chicken broth
2 cups water
2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 ½ teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon basil
½ teaspoon freshly cracked black pepper
½ teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons sugar –  optional
chives and pumpkin seeds – optional but a very nice touch!

Heat oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the onions and saute until translucent about 8 minutes stirring occasionally. Add the butternut squash and continue sauteing for another 10-20 minutes stirring a few times.

Add the rest of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Simmer on low for about an hour.

Puree with whatever you have, I use my immersion blender for convenience
Add salt and pepper to taste.
IMG_5531Bonus is you can freeze the leftovers since there is no cheese or cream

IMG_5533

My husband and I taste tested adding sesame seeds or pumpkin seeds – pumpkin won!!!


Tomato & Butternut Squash soup
Macros = 8 ounce
68 Calories – 2.2g Fat – 10.9g Carbs – 3g Protein

Tomato & Cheddar Soup generic
Comparison Macro = 8 ounce
370 Calories – 28g Fat – 19g Carbs – 15g Protein

Pasta e Fagioli – similar to Olive Garden

Soup season came pretty quickly; at least for a couple of day. Nothing like going from 90’ to 40’ within a couple of days to start me thinking of making soup; literally any soup is fine with me. I do have a secret fantasy; well I guess it’s not a secret anymore; but to open a little soup shop. Kind of like a loaf and ladle kind of place. Because having a nice piece of bread with a warm cup of soup is just plain heaven to me.
IMG_5441I remember being in NY City quite a few year ago doing some sightseeing with my husband and we went looking for the Soup Nazi – you know the one that the show Seinfeld made a little more famous than he might have wanted to be. It really was a small hole in the wall kind of place on a side street and I thought it was simply brilliant. I can’t remember the exact wording but the sign said something like know what you want to order, have your money ready, place your order and move all the way to the left. Me being; well me I couldn’t stop smiling so I can only guess he knew I was only there because of the Seinfeld episode. My husband and I stepped up with our order and money ready, placed and paid and moved to the left. Apparently not far enough; or he played along; but we were pointed at and motioned to move further to the left. Still brings a smile to my face.
IMG_5439Anyway I loved how you got your soup, a spoon, napkin, an apple and a piece of bread ripped from a loaf all in  brown paper bag. What a great lunch; I would go there daily if I lived or worked close by. So simple yet so fulfilling.
IMG_5440Pasta e Fagioli Soup makes approximately 12 cups – freezes nicely

Ingredients
1 pound lean ground turkey (your choice – chicken, beef, sausage all would be great)
2 tbs extra virgin olive oil
1 large onion, diced
2 medium carrots, peeled and diced
3 stalks celery, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
32 ounce low sodium beef or chicken broth plus a little more as needed or use water
1 15 ounce can diced tomatoes
28 ounce can tomato sauce
1 ½ tsp dried basil
1 tsp dried oregano
¾ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp dried marjoram – or substitute with more oregano
1 cup ditalini pasta – or substitute with another small pasta
1 15 oz can red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 15 oz can northern beans, drained and rinsed
Kosher salt and fresh crack Black Pepper to taste

Instructions
Heat 1 tbs olive oil in a dutch oven over medium heat, crumble in the meat and cook, stirring occasionally until cooked through. Drain fat and transfer to a plate and set aside. Heat remaining olive oil add carrots, celery and onions over medium-high heat until tender, about 6 minutes, add garlic saute another minute or so. Reduce heat to low, add the tomato sauce, broth, tomatoes and all the spices plus the meat back into the pot. Cover with a lid and simmer, stirring occasionally, until veggies are tender, about 20 minutes.
Prepare pasta according to the directions on the box. Add cooked drained pasta to the soup along with both cans of beans. Allow to meld for a few minutes. Serve warm with grated parmesan or romano cheese.
IMG_5446Macros = 1 cup using ground turkey
Calories 221
Fat 7.54
Carbs 21.25
Protein 18.2

16 Bean Soup – pasta e fagioli

Last weekend my daughter and I were binge watching some Ina Garten episodes and we have already made 3 of the recipes. She is my favorite “I can make that” person to watch.  I have on numerous occasions watched an episode and then my mind starts racing to my fridge/freezer and pantry to see if I have everything so I can make it when I’m finished watching.

IMG_5335

They look beautiful; before they were cooked

The one I want to share with you today I had to go to the store for 16 bean soup mix I know a few of my close friends that read my blog are going to ask me what the heck is fagioli it is simply pasta and beans. I want to share with you a couple of my thought processes; just to proving once again that that I can be a total nerd!  First thought; it was a passing thought – don’t judge me “16 beans, you have to buy 16 different bags of beans to make a soup, that’s going to be HUGE?” OK there must be a 16 bean mixture you can buy.  I get to the store and I see 15 bean mixtures; another passing thought Oh Sure Ina’s store gets 16 beans; my store only gets to 15 whatever so a few bags away there it is a 16 bean mixture bag of beans. I’ve been to this area of my store numerous times and never even noticed them there.

IMG_5351

So I had everything else I needed but should I actually make a hot soup when we are having a heat wave this week? The quick answer is yes I really wanted to make it as it looked awesome! Result the fam loved it and I will most definitely be making it again. I also have to share that there was one bean that kinda scared me, the fava bean was HUGE so I made sure that when I pulled out the portion to smash; to thicken the soup I made sure they were in that pile. I’m such a baby!
IMG_5340
IMG_5333
Pasta E Fagioli

1 bag of 16 bean soup mix – (Goya)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 package 6 ounces pancetta diced
1 large onion diced
3-4 cloves minced garlic
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 cup dry red wine
4+ chicken stock
kosher salt & black pepper
1 cup miniature pasta – Ditalini
1/2 cup parmesan cheese
1 table spoon red wine vinegar
a few fresh basil leaves – julienned


Directions
you’ll need to soak the beans the day before. In a large bowl cover the beans and add an extra 2 inches above; cover and place in the fridge. Day 2 drain the beans and rinse under cold water.  Place the beans in a large pot and cover with 8 cups of cold water. Bring to a boil, lower the heat and simmer for about an hour.  If needed skim off any foam and toss.
IMG_5341
In a stock pot or dutch oven over medium heat add the pancetta and onion, saute till browned, roughly 12-18 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes, saute another minute. Add the tomatoes, wine and 4 cups of stock. 1 tablespoon kosher salt plus 1 teaspoon black pepper. Remove from the heat

IMG_5342

as I said, they were very colorful before being cooked

To thicken the soup a little drain the beans and add two thirds of them to the soup. Put the rest of them through a food mill or like to mash them. If you used the food mill discard the skins. Stir the bean puree and the pasta into the soup. Bring to a boil and then simmer for 20 to 30 minutes stirring occasionally; until the pasta is tender. If the soup is too thick add more chicken stock till you get the consistency you like. Stir in the parmesan cheese and the red wine vinegar. Serve with a swirl of olive oil, a little more parmesan cheese and some basil.

IMG_5344

Recipe from Ina Garten – Food Network

 

Italian Wedding soup

We have had some crazy weather here in NH of late. We had 3 huge snow storms one week and the next week we get up into the high 60’s and some places into the 70’s for a whole week. We went from 3 feet of snow to just a dusting. I really don’t think winter is over yet, I am sure we will have at least one more snowstorm. We are just not that lucky.  We did have 4 days in a row of record breaking warmth and on day 5 we paid for it. It’s super windy aka power outage windy and very cold. We still have power but you just never know.  img_4974
I don’t always have a lot of spare time on the weekends. I am either running errands or hanging out with friends but I had a long weekend last weekend and not a lot of plans so I spent a lot of time in the kitchen. I made 2 different kinds of meatballs, one for italian wedding soup and the other just to have in the freezer so we could just drop in a sauce for spaghetti or have yummy meatball grinders. I also took the leftover pasta from this soup and made macaroni and cheese.  The next day I made chocolate chip cookies, the one I blogged about and are a little obsessed over of late; along with banana nut bread; I had 3 overripe bananas and oatmeal cream sandwich cookies, I lovingly dubbed big debbies. They taste just like the little debbies that I will admit I used to buy once in awhile.

img_4964
Italian Wedding Soup


Meatballs
1 egg
¾ cup grated Parmigiana Reggiano cheese
½ dried breadcrumbs
1 small onion diced and sauted
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ teaspoon black pepper
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
2 pounds ground beef

Broth
2 quarts chicken broth
⅓ cup spinach, frozen or fresh
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried parsley
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon black pepper

Combine the first 7 ingredients in a medium bowl and add the ground beef, mix till combined, try not to overmix/work the beef.  Shape into 1 inch balls, no bigger.  Mine I felt could have been even smaller so they would have been a better small bite versus having to slice them in half.
img_4966img_4967img_4968
Cook your pasta separately and add it at the very end along with the meatballs. You can use the same pot if you want to save some clean up. Cook the pasta first and set aside.
img_4969img_4970


In a dutch oven or similar pan cook the meatballs over medium heat till cooked. No need to brown them like I did unless you want to. It does change the taste of the soup and a little more depth but entirely your choice!

In the same pan, drain the fat and add the garlic; cook for 1 minute, then add the broth, spinach, onion powder, parsley simmer uncovered for 5 minutes or so.  Add the meatball and pasta heat through and serve.

New England Clam Chowder – Go Pats!

Are you ready for some football? Can I say that? It’s probably trademarked but I’ve been “getting ready” all morning…well sort of! The 7 layer dip is prepped, the buffalo wings are pre-cooked, guacamole will most definitely be on the table for halftime and  in honor of my New England Patriots I also made New England Clam Chowder! The funny thing is, we are not even having a Superbowl party but we always watch the big game and it is just so fitting to have well; party food.
img_4951This is the first time that New England Clam Chowder has been on my Superbowl Sunday menu but I felt it was very appropriate being that New England is in the big game this year; Go Pats!!!
img_4944If I wanted to do a full New England spread I would have to have more seafood represented; maybe some fish and chips and definitely a lobster roll plus some Boston Baked Beans. I opted for more of wings, chips and dips kind of menu for the fam.
img_4948

img_4947

Clam Chowder

6 slices bacon diced
1 large Onion diced
2 ribs Celery diced
4 potatoes diced
1 tablespoon flour
2 Bay Leaves
¼ teaspoon Thymes
Kosher Salt
Fresh Cracked Black Pepper
1 cup water
2 cups Clam Juice
1 can whole belly Clams
2 cans chopped clams
2 ½ cups Milk
1 tablespoon butter

In a stockpot fry up diced bacon till crispy; remove from pan to drain on some paper towels. Reserving 1 tablespoon of the bacon fat, saute the onions and celery till translucent. Add the flour and cook for 1 -2 minutes. Add water slowly creating a roux and cook for another minute or two. Add broth, thyme and bay leaves.  Add potatoes and simmer until they are cooked through.  Add milk and clams and finish off with a tab of butter.

Prime Rib Leftover Soup

Happy New Year!

Depending on what you did on your last night of 2016 you might be looking for a nice and greasy hangover breakfast; maybe bacon & eggs along with some pancakes might work or if you can find it a cheeseburger and fries – I am open to either plus I wouldn’t say no to a slice of cold pizza. Or if you are a better person than I you could be going for a light but filling kind of way to start 2017; maybe some nice and creamy oatmeal, or and egg white omelet; I honestly have never had an egg white omelet but I love oatmeal.
img_4849

We are spending the weekend with friends in Montreal so I am writing this before we head out. I can’t be sure but I think there might be some pancakes & bacon in my future on Jan 1
img_4840

My Christmas Prime Rib had me dancing in my seat, literally I’m not kidding.  It was SO delicious and cooked to perfection I wish you all could have tasted it. When I ordered it I mentioned there would be 4 to 6 of us as I wasn’t sure if a couple of people were going to come. They guided me to order a 3 bone roast and they would remove the bones but tie them back on so it was easier for me to carve and serve. When I went to pick it up; it was HUGE (11 pounds) I almost traded it for a 2 bone but the butcher talked me into it. There were only 4 of us so we had plenty of leftovers.

img_4833

I wanted to share at least one picture of my masterpiece

I recall making a quick soup out of the very last piece of beef from last years roast so I figured that was in order again for this year. I still had one of the bones so I threw that in while it was simmer to add to the flavor of the soup – well worth it.
img_4843
My husband doesn’t have as good a memory as I do; or at least when I told him I was making Prime Rib Soup he was like; “well that sounds different”. Ignoring him I kept on cutting up my veggies and started sautéing the onions, celery and carrots. It comes together very quickly and it is totally worth using a slice or two of your leftovers.
img_4847

Prime Rib Soup

1 small to medium onion diced
1 or 2 stalks of celery diced
2 carrots peeled and diced
1 sprig of fresh rosemary chopped – or use whatever herb you flavored your roast with
3 potatoes peeled and diced
1 or 2 pieces of beef chopped
Beef Broth – homemade or use your favorite
leftover gravy – add so much flavor if you have any use it
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste

Sauté the onion, celery and carrots till translucent. Add rosemary cook another minute or two. Add gravy, broth and potatoes.  Once the potatoes are soft add the beef and let simmer to let everything meld together.  Serve with bread to sop up the wonderful broth