Thursday, February 28, 2013

Chicken Stock and Chicken Noodle Soup

Last night, when we were done with dinner, I covered all of the leftover chicken and put it in the fridge.  Today, I cleaned all the meat off the carcass, shredded some and set it aside for soup, gave some to my husband's Gram so she could make chicken salad, and saved some for my kitchen helper.

I can haz chickenz?

The chicken carcass and gizzards (that I saved when I roasted the chicken last night) were used to make a delicious chicken stock for my soup with a little left over for other recipes.

Chicken Noodle Soup
  • 2 quarts chicken stock, recipe follows
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 1 cup baby carrots, cut into thirds
  • 4 fresh thyme sprigs
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 8 ounces dried wide egg noodles
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded cooked chicken
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

Put chicken stock in a soup pot.  Add the onion, garlic, carrots, thyme and bay leaf and bring the liquid to a boil.  Reduce heat to low and simmer for about half an hour, until carrots are tender.

Add the noodles and simmer for 7-8 minutes until tender. Fold in the chicken, and continue to simmer for another couple of minutes to heat through; season with salt and pepper.

Chicken Stock
  • 1 chicken carcass and giblets (discard liver)
  • 5 whole baby carrots,
  • 2 celery stalks, cut in large chunks
  • 1 large white onion, quartered
  • 3 cloves of garlic, peeled
  • 1 handful flat leaf parsley
  • 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns
  • 12 cups water

Place the chicken and vegetables in a large stockpot over medium heat. Pour in cold water to cover. Add peppercorns, and allow it to slowly come to a boil. Skim any foam that comes to the surface.

Lower the heat to low and gently simmer for 2 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.

Remove carcass and large pieces with tongs.

Carefully strain the stock through a fine sieve into another pot to remove the vegetable solids. Use the stock immediately. 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.

Yield: About 9 cups - a little over 2 quarts
PS When I was growing up and my Mom made chicken soup, I never saw her strain the broth.  Since the broth and soup contain similar veggies, I thought it was all one step and always wondered why there were never bits of chicken bone in her soup.  Years later, when I wanted to make my own and Googled directions for making chicken broth, I realized the secret to the "magic" behind her soup.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Culinary Adventures, Chicken, Tomato Basil Soup, & The Beekman Boys

Since the beginning of the year, I've been trying to eat better, which involves actually (gasp) cooking meals at home & using fresh seasonal ingredients whenever possible.  To help cut our food budget a bit, I've also been planning meals based on what items our local grocery store has on sale.  To my surprise, I've found that with a little planning (and many hours lost to Pinterest) I'm able to plan meals that don't involve spending hours in the kitchen, are delicious, and keep things fresh and exciting.  As an added bonus, my husband frequently follows me into the kitchen to see what I'm up to and usually ends up helping, so we've actually been spending more time together too.

Dinner last night consisted of homemade tomato basil soup (recipe to follow) and roasted chicken with potatoes and mushrooms.    I used the roasted chicken recipe from The Beekman 1802 Heirloom Cookbook, but added the mushrooms because I view most recipes more like guidelines than actual rules and I had baby bellas left over from last week's homemade mushroom soup.  I opened a bottle of white wine to add some to the soup and as I went to pour myself a glass, my husband asked, "Is that the glass that was back in our bathroom?" "Yeah," I answered, "but I washed it first." Without even pausing he said, "You know, I bet there are some people who don't have any wine glasses in their bathroom, but I realize that's a bit too aspirational."

Roasted potatoes and mushrooms after removing chicken from the pan

The following recipe is my attempt to replicate the tomato basil soup that I used to get at Cafe Minnie's, in Seattle.  It was a favorite meal after a late night out with friends after I "may" have had a drink or two. 

Tomato Basil Soup

1 Tbsp. Olive oil
1 onion (med.), diced
6 cloves of garlic, chopped

 28 oz. can diced tomatoes in juice
14 oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic, & oregano
14 oz. can diced tomatoes with roasted garlic & onion

1 bunch of fresh basil, chopped
1 tsp. black pepper (freshly ground)

1 cup white wine (Your choice. I use whatever is on sale.)
1 cup half and half

Shredded parmesan cheese (about 2 Tbsp. per bowl)

 In the lid to a dutch oven (or bottom or a large pot), sauté onion and garlic in olive oil, until the onion is translucent. 

Put the tomatoes, half of the basil, black pepper, and wine into a dutch oven (or add to your large pot if you're using that instead of a dutch oven), add the garlic and onions, and simmer for 20 minutes. 

Remove about half of the soup from the pot and set aside. 

Add the half and half, and, using an immersion blender,  puree the soup in the pot until smooth (you may also pour the half you removed into a blender to puree instead if you don't have an immersion blender). 

Return the reserved chunky non blended soup to the pot.  Add the remainder of the basil, stir to blend, and heat through.
Ladle into a bowl and top with about 2 Tbsp. of  shredded parmesan cheese.  The cheese will melt into the warm soup.

Note:  For the wine, I used a 
Sauvignon Blanc from the Sterling Vintner's Collection.  Also, when I make this in the fall, I substitute fresh tomatoes for canned.

PS - you may notice that I used a cast iron dutch oven when cooking my soup.  It is so old and well seasoned that the acidity in the tomatoes doesn't harm mine, but if you're worried about stripping the seasoning from your cast iron, you can use a pot that isn't cast iron.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bananas Foster for One

Bananas Foster is one of my favorite desserts, but not one I've seen on many restaurant menus lately, nor one I've had in years.  After seeing a few variations on Pinterest the last few days, I decided to make it myself.  All the recipes were for much larger servings than what I needed, so I created my own recipe, to make only one serving.

Bananas Foster for One
1 banana
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
pinch of cinnamon
1/4 cup loosely packed brown sugar
1 ounce dark rum
1 ounce banana liqueur

You will need:
Small, non stick skillet
Bowl of vanilla ice cream - about 1 scoop

1.  Melt butter in a small non stick skillet over low heat.
2.  Stir in brown sugar and cinnamon to create a bubbly syrup.
3.  Stir in the banana liqueur.
4.  Slice banana into quarters, add to skillet and fry until they begin to soften and brown - about 6 minutes.
5.  Carefully add rum and heat, until rum is warmed.
6.  Remove skillet from burner and light sauce with a match.
7.  Swirl pan until flames subside.
8.  Remove bananas from skillet, place over ice cream, then pour remaining sauce over vanilla ice cream.

Total time:  From making the dessert to sitting down and enjoying it - only about 15 minutes.

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Vending at Handmade Arcade on December 8, 2012

I am thrilled to announce that I will be a vendor at Handmade Arcade, this Saturday. Now in its ninth year, this event brings young, innovative crafters and progressive do-it-yourself designers to the David L. Lawrence Convention Center on December 8, 2012 to sell, their handmade, locally produced, and offbeat wares at a bustling marketplace.

The Steel Town Etsy Team is one of the sponsors of Handmade Arcade and will have a team table at the event. Stop by, sign up for their newsletter, or any number of Etsy newsletters, and receive a FREE raffle ticket for your chance to win one of two (2) $50.00 Etsy gift certificates or twenty five (25) $25.00 Etsy gift certificates. They can be redeemed online at any Etsy shop that accepts gift certificates. While you're at their table you can also pick up some free swag from Etsy and purchase raffle tickets to win their basket filled with handmade goodies made by the members of our team. Proceeds from the gift basket will benefit the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse (PCCR) and the basket will include a gift certificate for PCCR as well. You can also meet some members of the team, talk to them about Etsy, and purchase handmade items directly from them.
This event provides craft artists working outside mainstream and fine arts sectors with a grassroots, high-visibility venue to sell wares, build community, network, and share their artistic practice.

With last year's event, Handmade Arcade found a new eco-friendly home at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center which allows them to continue their commitment to the environment through the convention center's green practices ( This new home also provides space for more vendors than ever before (150+), the addition of new areas to feature demonstration artists, DJs, and musicians. The central downtown location is accessible via car, bus, T, bike, and foot and there is extensive on- and off-site parking.

Situated on-site, near the vendors, their welcoming Hands-on Handmade area features a variety of drop-in, short, and day-long interactive programs — including craft demonstrations, mini-tutorials, make-and-take activities, craft competitions, and art installations — all designed to bridge the gap between consumers and creators.

Don't miss your chance to support local artists and purchase unique handmade holiday gifts for those on your list at this year's event. Remember, you're not only supporting local artists, but your local economy as well. According to The 3/50 Project, a national small business advocacy group, for every $100.00 that is spent at a small, local business, $68.00 will return to the community. (Info from "5 Benefits to Shopping on Small Business Saturday" FORBESWOMAN, November 11, 2011)

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Falling into Autumn...

While I love something about every season, Fall has a special place in my heart.

There's so much to look forward to this time of year as the leaves change with the season and we start preparing for the winter and all the holiday festivities that come with it.

Perhaps it's because in each of the months that remain we have a holiday celebration to look forward to - Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas.

Perhaps it's just the chill in the air that gives me an extra excuse to snuggle with my loved ones.

Possibly, it's just the excitement of looking forward to extra opportunites to get together with friends or family.

No matter what the reasons are, I'm happy it's Fall.

I have even created a board on Pinterest in honor of the season, as well as not one, but two Halloween boards.

All of the pictures above were taken in October 2010, at Greenwood Cemetary, during a trip to New York.  I hope you enjoyed them.

What's your favorite part of the season?

Monday, April 23, 2012

County Fair Elephant Ears

Each Fall, when I was growing up, we eagerly anticipated the arrival of the Central Washington State Fair, held each September in Yakima, WA.  No visit to the fair was complete without eating at least one Elephant Ear. 

Last summer my boys and I went to the flea market in Rogers, OH and I was excited to see a food stand selling Elephant Ears.  Sadly, they were drastically different than the ones I'd come to know and love when visiting the fair.

Finally, I decided to try making my own and am happy to report great success.  I modified the recipe I found here.  They were fairly quick, easy, and my boys gave them rave reviews.  Here's my recipe:

3/4 cup milk
1/2 tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
3 Tbsp. shortening
1 packet quick rise dry yeast
2 cups flour
Oil for frying
Cinnamon/sugar mix (approximately 1/2 cup sugar & 1 Tbsp. cinnamon)

1)  Heat milk, salt, sugar, and shortening until shortening is melted, but do not boil. 

2)  Cool to lukewarm.  The mixture needs to be between 110-115 degrees.

3)  Add yeast and stir until dissolved.

4)  Stir in flour, 1 cup at a time, beating until smooth after each addition.

5)  Put dough into a greased bowl.

6)  Cover with a damp cloth and let rise until double in size.

7)  Dust hands with flour.  Pinch off pieces of dough, about the size of a golf ball.  Stretch dough into a 6-8 inch circle.

8)  Add enough oil to skillet to come up over the top of each piece of dough.  Fry until pieces rise, turn with tongs, a fry until light brown.

9)  Drain on paper towels and sprinkle with cinnamon/sugar mixture.

Note:  I made mine the size of large cookies and the batch made about 8.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Handmade Arcade is this Saturday!

Handmade Arcade will be held this Saturday, November 12th, from 11:00 am - 7:00 pm at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center in Pittsburgh, PA.

This event brings a unique shopping experience to Pittsburgh with music, snacks and a Hands-on-Handmade making area. Come meet the Steel Town Etsy team (they'll be there representing Etsy - one of the event sponsors) and buy a raffle ticket to win a basket of locally made handmade items. A portion of the proceeds from the raffle will go to the Pittsburgh Center for Creative Reuse.

I'm honored to be one of the vendors for this event - Barker's Herbs & Heirlooms.


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