Cabbage Soup – EASY

I don’t know about you but I have already been thinking about the plants I am going to put in my garden this year.  It might have had something to do with the warm February we had but them mother nature had a different plan and decided we really needed another foot of snow. If nothing else it was absolutely beautiful around here.

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I added the Edamame as I had a small bag in the freezer – cleaning out the fridge kind of soup

I literally made this soup because I had a hunk of cabbage left in my fridge since harvesting it in from my garden sometime in the Fall or Autumn whatever you call it. I needed the space but I would never throw away perfectly good food. It’s not in my nature to waste but we don’t really eat a lot of cabbage but I grow enormous ones and they last once wrapped in plastic wrap for a VERY long time.

IMG_2592Believe it or not I still have some red and yellow onions, shallots and garlic that we are still using from my garden. If you have never grown any vegetables or herbs you should try; at least grow some herbs in a pot, or a patio tomato. It doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming a little soil, sun and water and you are good to go.
IMG_2629Cabbage Soup with ingredients on hand

2 stalks Celery – diced
2 Carrots – peeled and diced
2-3 Tomatoes – chopped
1 large Onion – diced
Head of Cabbage – chopped
2 cloves Garlic – minced
1 cup Edamame
2 tablespoons Tomato Paste
1 Bay Leaf
Kosher Salt & freshly cracked black Pepper – to taste
Sriracha – to taste
Chicken Stock – enough to cover veggies

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I added a little sweet Italian Sausage that I browned and added at the end – Just a little more love

In a slow cooker I chopped and added it to the pot, set it on high and left it for about 4 hours.
You can make it on top of the stove as well using the same method.

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.
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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.

 

 

Soup is On! Cheeseburger Soup

Soup is on and I’m so excited and I just can’t hide it – sorry you’ll be humming that for the rest of the day…hehehe

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Earlier this month we were invited to a soup party. This is our second time attending; last year I brought lobster bisque; only because my husband was bragging about it to the host. Unfortunately I am sworn to secrecy with the bisque recipe. I received it from an ex-employee from a now closed restaurant that we used to frequent.
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This year I decided to bring my gnocchi soup; which is delicious and always a hit; I shared the recipe for that soup last year gnocchi soup July 2015. There was one soup at the party that is made and brought every year because of how popular it is. It is a cheeseburger soup. This is the only place I have seen and tasted this soup. It is delicious and I should have asked for the recipe but I didn’t. I decided to try making it from recipes I saw online. This one might not be exactly like the one from the party but I still like it and wanted to share it with you here.

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I didn’t wait for my homemade chicken stock to thaw from the freezer


I just finished making my second cheeseburger soup in the last 3 weeks. I think I like this one a little better than my last. It asked for cubed potatoes and I think I made the cubes too large last time, so I made them super small this time. I even contemplated shredding them but couldn’t bring myself to do it.
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Ingredients
1 lb ground beef
1 onion diced
¾ cup shredded carrot
¾ chopped celery
1 tsp dried parsley
3 cups chicken broth
4 cups potatoes, cubed
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2 cups cheddar cheese, shredded
4 TBS butter
salt and pepper to taste

Directions
In a large pot, brown the ground beef and onions
Add broth, celery, carrots, parsley and potatoes and simmer until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes
Making the roux


In a small saucepan melt the butter and flour, boil for a minute or so. Add the milk stirring until smooth, simmer for 2-3 minutes until it thickens.
Gradually add the roux to the soup stirring constantly,
Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to a simmer.
Stir in the cheese until melted and then serve. Make sure that you don’t boil the soup once the cheese is added.

Easy Homemade Ramen Noodle Bowl

For those of you who know how a traditional ramen bowl is made the title might scare you away from trying or even reading this post but I hope you can bring yourself to keep going and I promise you that the recipe alone is worth the couple of minutes it will take you to listen to my little spiel and be rewarded with not only a delicious broth bowl of noodles, it was so easy I will be making it again very soon!

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So my husband has been on a “we need to find a noodle restaurant” kick of late. I’m fairly certain he hasn’t done any research on the subject, and I know I haven’t but I am not opposed to making a noodle bowl. However making a traditional ramen bowl can take many days to make the perfect broth and while I have done it once, yeah only once. I am kind of a instant gratification kind of person and while I have made my fair share of crazy long tedious recipes. They are usually a one and done kind of thing for me. I can appreciate why there are such recipes out there, and again I might even try them, but I much prefer to eat what I am making sometime that day.

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This is also a great way to use up some of those packages of ramen noodles that have been lying around in the pantry, or at least my pantry; minus the salt packet that is included with them of course. But the noodles are wonderful, easy to use and oh so cheap to buy.

 

Dinner for two

2 chicken breasts boneless skinless or whatever kind you have on hand
Kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper
Olive Oil or 1 Tbs unsalted butter for browning the chicken

2 tsp sesame oil or vegetable oil
2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
3 tsp fresh garlic, minced
3 Tbs soy sauce
2 Tbs mirin
4 cups chicken stock
1 oz dried shiitake mushrooms or ½ cup fresh

2 large eggs
½ cup scallions, sliced
2 – 3 oz packs dried ramen noodles

Chicken – preheat your oven to 375’ F. season generously both sides of the breast with salt and pepper. Either melt your butter over medium heat or if you are using oil; once hot place chicken skin (unless using skinless) and leave for 3-4 minutes or until it releases from the pan and is nice and browned. Cook on the other side for the same 3-4 minutes and then transfer to the oven to finish cooking through.

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Broth – heat the sesame oil in a large pot over medium heat, until shimmering. Add the garlic and ginger cooking till soft; without burning. Add the soy sauce, mirin and stir to combine. Cook for another minute or so. Add the stock, cover and bring to a boil. Remove the lid and let it simmer uncovered for 5 minutes. If using dried mushrooms add them now and gently simmer for another 10 minutes. Check for seasonings and add salt to taste.

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Eggs – soft-boiled eggs start with leaving them in the fridge and in a medium sized pot put enough water to cover the eggs; noting that you can reuse the water for the noodles in a bit. Once the water is boiling gently drop the eggs in and boil for 7 minutes, removing to a ice water bath to stop the cooking process. Once you can touch the eggs gentle peel and slice in half

Noodles – in the same pot you used to cook the eggs drop the noodles a boil just till soft; 2-3 minutes. Drain set aside.

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Assembling the bowls – slice the chicken into thin strips. Slice scallions. Divide the noodles and broth between two bowls, place chicken slices and eggs on top of the noodles and sprinkle with fresh scallions.

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Thanksgiving Dinner – no power – Sausage Ciabatta Stuffing

Firstly I hope you all had a wonderful day with delicious food and great conversations with your family and friends

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Talk about having a pretty traditional Thanksgiving here in NH we got hit with a heavy snow storm on Wednesday; I think the final total was 15 +/- inches.  While that much snow is generally not a big deal for us, this one kind of kicked our butt.  We lost power for 10 hours on Wednesday; which is always my prep day. I peel and cut up all the veggies, set the table, get out all the serving dishes and prep the dressing aka stuffing.

A few years ago I opted for cooking 2 smaller sized turkeys together versus the 16+lb bird I used to get. I find that they have a better chance of being super moist which pretty much is the main cooking goal for any cook. This year in particular it was an amazing choice. My gas Viking stove top works but my gas oven does not. My girlfriend who lives up the road did offer me hers and I was going to use it; however I was concerned about not being on site while it cooks, I like to keep an eye on it and I couldn’t be 2 places at once.

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Not as pretty as when cooked in my oven; but they tasted wonderful!

Thursday we lost power again at 8:30 am; it came back right after we finished dessert around 4:30 pm.  While my guys were out plowing and shoveling; I cleared a path to the gas grill and cleaned it off at least a foot of fresh powder. I actually grabbed my roasting pan and put the birds; packaging an all into the pan to see if they would all fit on the grill. It was perfect. I make beer can chicken on the grill all the time; so I felt pretty confident it would work.  I filled the bottom of the pan with water; stuffed both with apples, onions, and garlic and seasoned them well; covered them with foil and hoped for the best. The grill was a solid 450′ and they took approximately 2 hours.

They came out excellent and outside smelled awesome!!!

There were only 2 things that I couldn’t make as I wanted.  I could not make the dinner rolls this year; which was fine and the dressing I made couldn’t be baked to get all the crust that everyone loves. But I was able to brown them with a little crust on the stove top.  If you are in search of a great tasting dressing/stuffing I wholly suggest this one!  Flavor galore and everyone loves it.  My son had 4 helpings yup I said 4.

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Fennel

Fennel

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It is based off of a Mario Batali sausage stuffing

Sausage Ciabatta Dressing

Your favorite Olive Oil for the pan

1 lb of your favorite Italian sausage – casing removed crumbled and browned

1 medium onion – diced

1 bulb fennel also called anise – sliced thin, fronds reserved

1 cup of chestnuts – I found them already cooked and peeled – brilliant

2 apples – I used granny smiths – peeled and diced

5 cups ciabatta bread cubed and toasted – I toasted them in a pan on the stove top

¼ cup fresh parsley – chopped

2 ½ cups chicken stock

½ melted butter

Add oil to the pan, crumble the sausage and cook till the sausage starts to brown, add the onion, fennel, chestnuts, apples and cook. Stirring occasionally, until the sausage is cooked through

In a large bowl, place the cubed bread and pour the cooked sausage mixture over the top. Sprinkle with parsley, and pour the stock and melted butter; toss to combine.

In a 9×13 baking dish place all ingredients in and cover with foil. Bake for 30 minutes, uncover and bake until the top is golden browned and crisp. Serve garnished with some of the fennel fronds.

Surf & Turf and Asparagus Risotto

My daughters last dinner at home before heading back to Japan was simple, delicious, expensive but worth every penny!  She wanted lobster since she cannot get a Maine lobster in Japan and since we are true New Englander’s that is the only kind of lobster we like. Trust me I have tried lobster in the Caribbean on several occasions from Cancun to Anegada and several places in between.  The only reason we keep trying it, is people rave about it at this location or this restaurant on this island etc.  So when we mention that we are from New England and we really only like Maine Lobsters they try very hard to build up what they experienced and that we just HAVE to try it.  So on a few occasions we bend and order it; YUP there is still nothing like cold water New England Maine lobster.

Cancun Surf & Turf 2013

Cancun Surf & Turf 2013

 

Anegada Lobster 2012

Anegada Lobster 2012

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Steak is also something my daughter doesn’t really have a chance to enjoy being in so far from home.  So for this meal we bought our most favorite cut of meat Delmonico Ribeye.  Added a little Adobo, fresh cracked black pepper and a little kosher salt and that is all you need; oh and cook it to medium rare and then it just melts in your mouth.  My mouth is watering right now!

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Lobster is very easy to make, generally one per person is fine.  Fill your largest pot with salted water cover and once it comes to a rolling boil add a lobster or two at the most, cover, set a timer for 12 minutes.  Remove from the pot and place on a platter or baking sheet with side, they are messy so if you have as a nice a husband as mine he will get all the meat out of the shells for you.  The mess stays on the tray and you can just toss; take the trash out of the house immediately or better yet make and eat this alfresco.

 

Risotto though time consuming is worth the extra effort.  I added asparagus to this one because we all love it except for my son but he doesn’t mind it as much in this form.

Risotto 

1 ½ Cup Arborio Rice

1 Quart Chicken Stock

½ Cup White Wine

1 medium shallot or small onion chopped finely

3 Tbs unsalted butter

1 Tbs Olive Oil

¼ Cup grated Parmesan Reggiano

1 Tbs chopped Parsley

Kosher Salt to taste

Bunch of Asparagus trimmed and cut into bite size pieces – boil in a little water just till tender but still crisp; remove to ice bath to stop the cooking process.

Heat the stock to a simmer in a medium saucepan, then lower the heat so that the stock just stays hot.

In a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan, heat the oil and 1 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat. When the butter has melted, add the chopped shallot or onion. Sauté for 2-3 minutes or until it is slightly translucent.

Add the rice and stir briskly with a wooden spoon so that the grains are coated with the oil and melted butter. Sauté for another minute or so; until there is a slightly nutty aroma. Don’t let the rice turn brown.

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Add the wine and cooking while stirring, until the liquid is fully absorbed. Add a ladle of hot chicken stock to the rice and stir until the liquid is fully absorbed. When the rice appears almost dry, add another ladle of stock and repeat the process.

Note: It’s important to stir constantly, especially while the hot stock gets absorbed, to prevent scorching, and add the next ladle as soon as the rice is almost dry.

The rice will take on a creamy consistency as it begins to release its natural starches. Continue adding stock, a ladle at a time, for 20-30 minutes or until the grains are tender but still firm to the bite, without being crunchy. If you run out of stock and the risotto still isn’t done, you can finish the cooking using hot water. Just add the water as you did with the stock, a ladle at a time, stirring while it’s absorbed.

Stir in the remaining 2 Tbs butter, the parmesan cheese and the parsley, and season to taste with kosher salt.

Risotto turns glutinous if held for too long; you should serve it right away. A properly cooked risotto should form a soft, creamy mound on a dinner plate.

Freeze or eat your choice

Sometimes I am hard pressed for time to cook a yummy meal during the week!  I also on occasion find it a pain in the butt to cook and I need a break; mostly on Friday nights.  So when I am in the cooking mood, I tend to take a few minutes before I go shopping to gather some ideas for dinners; I do ask the guys what they would like for dinners/ lunches; sometimes I regret this decision; This week they asked for Spaghetti, Chicken Divan, Beef Stew and Homemade ravioli.

Here are a few things I do in large quantities so we can eat some now and I freeze the rest for a later date. Meatballs for spaghetti or they are also great for grinders and I also make Swedish meatballs.  When I do make them I usually double the batch and freeze the leftovers on a sheet pan; once frozen I put them in a ziploc baggie and grab as needed.  While I do love meatballs; I do not like meatloaf; which also freezes very well.  Some will argue that they are basically the same thing but this is a childhood table drama and meatloaf will never be on my menu.  Though I have made it for my husband; probably only 5 or 6 times in the 29 years we have been together.  Wow that actually sounds pretty terrible now that I see it in writing.  You would think I could make it for him at least once a year.  I will consider making a couple for him next weekend; only because his birthday is coming up.

Meatballs

1/2 pound ground pork
1/2 pound ground lamb
1/2 pound ground hamburger
5 ounces frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained thoroughly
1/2 cup finely grated Parmesan
1 whole egg
1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
1 1/2 teaspoons dried parsley
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
1/2 cup bread crumbs, divided
Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the pork, lamb, beef, spinach, cheese, egg, basil, parsley, garlic powder, salt, red pepper flakes, and 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs. Using your hands, mix all ingredients until well incorporated. Use immediately or place in refrigerator for up to 24 hours.

Place the remaining 1/4 cup of bread crumbs into a small bowl. Using your hands, shape the meatballs into rounds,  Bake for 20 minutes or until golden and cooked through. Double this and freeze what you don’t use.

I also do this with Lasagna.  It is kind of a pain to get all the ingredients out and make the sauce and assemble etc. So when I make lasagna I usually make 3 or 4 and freeze the balance.   A few blogs ago I gave out a 4 bean chili recipe that freezes very well.  My family especially loves this chili on omelets for breakfast or dinner so I tend to pack them up for the freezer in smaller serving containers.

For those who do not have a ton of freezer space I love to cook a roaster or two if I am feeding several people for Sunday dinner; one for dinner and the other for meals during the week.  The breast meat is wonderful alongside some rice and your favorite veggie later in the week.  I tend to like the dark meat in soups/stews as it will stand up to the cooking process better than breast meat which tends to get stringy and dried out; though you can get by this by adding the chicken once your are done cooking the soup/stew as all it needs is to be heated up.  I always make chicken stock from the bones and either use it immediately for soup or end up freezing it.  A super easy meal is the One Pot Pasta that I also posted in a previous blog and you could use the chicken stock you made on Sunday.

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One Pot Pasta

Happy Healthy New Year!