Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Chicken Soup from Scratch

There is a lot of information out there on the health benefits of bone broth. One thing is known for sure, many mothers and grandmothers for years and years have always made a big ol pot of chicken soup (from the whole chicken, with bones) at the first sign of a cold or sickness. While they may not (or maybe they did) know the science behind all the good immunity and health benefits of chicken soup, they did know... it worked.

Last week my son came home from work and said he had a cold. It is the season for it. Usually as soon as fall hits it's not long before someone in the house gets a cold. He won the prize.

I went to my freezer and pulled out a whole chicken. I'd been thinking about what I wanted to make with it but had not come up with a plan. It was perfect timing.

Making chicken soup from scratch is not hard. It does take a bit of time but not much labor. The longer your chicken bones cook in the stock the better. Much of the time requirements are just letting the chicken simmer on the back burner.

Here is how I make it...

I start with one chicken. When I buy a chicken I look for the biggest chicken I can find. The bigger the chicken, the more meat on it.

I put the chicken in my large stock pot and cover it with 1 ½ gallons of water. I add 1 tablespoon of salt and ¼ cup vinegar. Vinegar helps to pull out the minerals from the bones as it cooks.

I bring this mixture to a boil, cover and reduce the heat to low. I let this simmer anywhere from 2 to 4 hours.

This is my first step. I'm going to cook the stock for longer but I now want to remove the chicken meat from the bones. I don't want my chicken meat over cooked and tasteless.

I use a hand held strainer or a small pan and scoop out the chicken. At this point the chicken has cooked enough that it is falling apart. I put the chicken into a large strainer basket that I set inside of a bowl to catch any broth.

Then I debone the chicken. I put the meat in one bowl and the bones in another as I work.

Next I set the meat aside and dump the bones and skin and everything leftover back into my stock pot.

I let this cook for another 6 to 12 hours. I want my stock to be as flavorful as possible but I also want to pull out the health benefits still in those bones. I cooked this stock for another 12 hours.

When the cooking time is done it is time to strain out the bones. I put a large pan in my sink and set my strainer basket inside of it. I then pour the pot of broth and bones into the strainer. The strainer catches all the bones and the stock goes into the bowl.

I pour the broth back into the stock pot and return it to the stove and begin making the soup. I cut up a few cloves of garlic (I used about 9 or 10 cloves for this batch) and a large onion.

I add those to the stock and turn up the heat so they can start to simmer. Next I get my chicken meat that I saved and I cut it up. Some people like to just shred the meat, and that works too. This is a personal preference for me. I like small chunks of chicken meat in my soup. I set this aside, I'll add it towards the end.

When the pot of soup has simmered for about 20 minutes or so I add the pasta. You could also add rice if you'd like. I like it both ways. For this pot I used pasta. Egg noodles are traditional. I did not have any egg noodles on hand so I used what I had, which was bow ties. I added about 10/12 oz of bow tie pasta.

I let this cook for the required amount of time for the pasta. For my pasta it was 15 minutes. When it was done cooking I added the chicken.

You could also add cut up carrots and/or celery if you'd like. If you add carrots or other veggies make sure to do this when you add the onions and garlic. Harder veggies, like carrots, need more time to cook. I added a jar (16oz) of canned corn to mine when I added the chicken as the corn did not need extra cooking time. The recipe is flexible.

After the chicken was added I tasted it. Mine needed more salt. I added salt to taste and I also added about 1 teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon poultry seasonings.

The soup is ready to eat. This recipe does make a large pot of soup so you can freeze some of it for later use, which is always good to have on hand.


Monday, October 5, 2015

Menu Monday!

When life throws you a curve ball.. you just roll with it!! :) Last week we made an overnight trip to visit my in laws up north and my son came home later in the week with a cold. So the menu changed. The philly cheesesteak sandwiches did not get made and the planned ham and bean soup became a big pot of chicken soup to battle his cold and hopefully help prevent the rest of us from catching it. I made it from a whole chicken I had in the freezer. I'll be sharing how I did this in tomorrow's blog post.

So that brings me to this week. I'm going to put off making the ham and bean soup. My ham bone will wait just fine in the freezer until I'm ready, maybe next week, we will see.

Here is what I'm tentatively planning for the week..

I made the Korean Pork on Sunday and tonight we have leftovers, so Monday is all set and ready to go.

Cheddar Bacon Chicken
Sometimes I see recipes online that appeals to me. But then I see changes that I'd make for various reasons such as personal taste, I know what will appeal to my family and what won't, etc. This is one of those. I'm making it up as I go along :). I'll share it with you if I like the way it turns out. I'm going to serve it with potatoes of some sort (I'll figure that out the day I make it) and a salad.

Split Pea Soup
I love split pea soup. As fall time comes I start thinking soup more often. And this is a favorite around here. I'll add bacon or sausage to it and serve it with garlic bread and a salad.

Taco Pie
This is easy to make. Brown the hamburger, add salsa and salt & pepper. Put in a baking dish, top with tortilla chips and cheese and bake until it's hot and bubbly. I don't have this recipe written down yet. I'll share it soon!

That should take care of it for the week, providing the week goes according to plan.. but we shall see..


Friday, October 2, 2015

Pumpkin Pie Spice Substitute

This is a repost from last year. Fall baking time is here and I have a few things on my list to make. Pumpkin pie spice is common in so many recipes this time of year. I always buy my spices in bulk and so I have all the individual spices in my cupboard. When I'm ready to do some fall baking it is super easy to mix up a batch.

If you're wanting to make a fall/pumpkin recipe and realize it calls for pumpkin pie spice and you don't have any... never fear.. you can make it easily yourself...

Pumpkin Pie Spice Substitute

1T cinnamon
1t nutmeg
1t ginger
½ t ground cloves

Put all ingredients in a small bowl. Stir until combined...

Store in an air tight container and use in any recipe calling for “pumpkin pie spice”..

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Pumpkin Spice Cake (from a cake mix)

I had a box of spice cake mix in my cupboard that has been there for a while. With fall here and being in a little bit of a mood to do some simple fall baking I set out to see what I could with this cake mix. I found this simple recipe: http://www.bettycrocker.com/recipes/incredibly-moist-pumpkin-spice-cake-with-cream-cheese-frosting/c8ce831f-e933-425d-b8c6-a2335705f63a    The cake is very moist and good.  A nice mix of spice and pumpkin flavors. 

It required the cake mix, a can of pumpkin and a few other ingredients...

I baked it in a 9x13 pan. The recipe made it into a layer cake.  I ended up baking if for about 35 minutes..

Frosted it...

The only changes I made to the recipe was to the frosting. The original recipe had 5 cups of powdered sugar, which seemed like a lot to me. I cut that down to 3 cups. I also added to the frosting 1 teaspoon of vanilla and a ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon.

It was yummy!! My guys ate it up pretty quick..


Monday, September 28, 2015

Menu Monday!

Today is grocery shopping day. I shop once a week. I've tried shopping every other week but that seems to be a little challenging especially with fresh veggies. I serve a lot of green salads because I love fresh veggies and find it the easiest way to get our daily fresh veggie needs met. So, I shop weekly (which is why menu planning is good, I can make sure I have everything I need for the weeks meals on hand).

How often do you grocery shop?

Last week's menu worked perfectly .. which was nice. We had the ham for a couple nights, the chili for a couple nights, had 2 nights were everyone fended for themselves.. and one night of meatloaf and tonight will be night 2 of meatloaf.

When I make a meal I cook a double batch of whatever I'm cooking with the intention of the meal lasting me for 2 nights. So far it's been a good plan. I cook less often and it makes meal planning pretty simple.

As I said, tonight we are having meatloaf along with tater tots and salad. For the rest of the week here is the line up...

Philly Cheesesteak Sandwiches
I'm buying roast beef from the deli for these sandwiches. I'll serve some soup with them. I'm not sure if I'll do something simple like tomato soup (using the tomato soup base I canned recently) or make a pot of veggie soup. Actually veggie soup is sounding good right now.

Navy Bean and Ham Soup
I saved the ham bone from last weeks ham and put it in the freezer. I'll use this to make the soup and serve biscuits and a salad on the side.

Korean Pork
My daughter, Emily, shared this recipe with me a couple years ago. I've made it several times. Works great with pork chops or pork riblets. I plan to serve egg rolls and chow mein and salad on the side.

I've made my own egg rolls many times and they are good. They do take a bit of time. Often times, nowadays, I buy them frozen from Costco. Their egg rolls are really good.

That should cover it for the week!!


Saturday, September 26, 2015

Brown Sugar & Honey Ham Glaze

I mentioned earlier this week (in Menu Monday) about having a ham dinner. I had bought a ham at Costco. The hams I buy have a packet of dry mix for making the glaze (just add water). It is very good and tasty.

However I realized with all the freezer work I must have punctured the packet of glaze and it had fallen out. So my ham had no glaze. I searched the web for something that would work. I found a lot of recipes but I just wanted a simple glaze. So I combined a couple different recipes and this is what I came up with...

This was delish!! (I know the pic does not look like much :), but it was easy to make and yummy.

My ham was about 9lbs and I baked it 325 for about 3 hours I pulled it out of the oven...

I spooned and spread the glaze over the ham. It was a spiral cut ham and I made sure to let the glaze drizzle as much as possible between the slices as well. I returned the ham to the oven and bumped up the heat to 400. It baked for about 20 to 30 minutes and this is what it looked like...

It tasted as good as it looked!!

With fall and the holidays coming up ham is often on the menu. If you need an easy glaze give this a try!!

Brown Sugar & Honey Ham Glaze

½ cup brown sugar
½ cup honey
2T Dijon mustard
½ t cinnamon
¼ t nutmeg

Mix all ingredients together with a wire whip. Spoon and spread over a baked ham. Return ham to the oven (uncovered). Bake at 400 for about 20 to 30 minutes or until ham is nicely browned.


Thursday, September 24, 2015

Canning Corn off the Cob

Last week it was time to harvest my corn. My corn was a bit behind others in my area. I got it planted a little late but that was ok. Up until now I was drowning in a sea of tomatoes! Ha, ha!! My son and I picked it...

Had to get a pic of my sunflowers.. they're looking so pretty right now..

Then we just sat by the goat fence and shucked it and tossed the husks to the goats. It was efficient and the goats were in heaven having all those corn husks...

I had over 100 ears of corn...

I raw packed my corn. I took about ¾ of the ears and scraped the the corn off the cob.

You can use a knife for this. I have a nifty little corn cob scraper that does a great job.

{affiliate link}

Then I filled pint size jars up with corn, covered in boiling water, put a new lid and a ring on the jars and filled up my canner. You can stack jars as I did here..

Corn is a low acid food and you must use a pressure canner to can it. I canned pint jars for 55 minutes at 10#'s of pressure. Quarts would be 75 minutes.

I ended up with 33 pints of corn off the cob and the rest of the corn that did not get canned was left for eating!!