Monday, December 17, 2012

Homemade Chicken Noodle Soup

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Chicken noodle soup is much better when made with homemade broth and homemade noodles.
I like to make chicken broth after having a roast chicken - Throw the leftover chicken, bones and all, in a big pot with water and salt, enough to cover all the chicken. Let it cook at a slow boil until the chicken is falling off the bones. Then strain the broth off the chicken, return to heat and let it reduce until it has the "strength" of chicken flavor that you like. 

While it's boiling down, you have things you can be doing. First off, mix up the noodle dough. Here is a small recipe. It can easily be doubled.

 1.5 cup unbleached flour
2 eggs
1.5 tsp olive oil
1 Tbsp water
1/2 tsp sea salt

Put flour and sea salt in a bowl, then add beaten eggs, water, and oil. Mix with a fork and let the dough sit for at least 15-20 minutes, covered. 

Okay, once your noodle dough is resting, start peeling and slicing carrots, slice celery, and dice onions; mince a little parsley, too, if you like.  When your broth is reduced to about the strength you like, add the chopped vegetables. While the veggies are cooking in the broth, bone some of the chicken, which should have cooled by now. If you prefer nice chunks of chicken instead of little pieces of leftovers, you can use a leftover cooked chicken breast or, maybe you can just use your roast chicken entirely for the soup, cutting off some of the best of the chicken before it goes to making broth. The boiled bits of chicken are good for chicken tacos.

Now, roll out your noodles on a lightly floured surface. Turn them over every so often, dusting lightly with flour. Once they are quite thin, cut them in strips with a pizza cutter or knife. 

Once your  veggies are just right (not too mushy), add the chicken. Then, carefully add the noodles, a few at a time. (You may not want to use all of them, depending on how much broth you made. Just play it by ear.) Reduce the heat to medium-low and cover. Let the noodles cook for about ten minutes. Remove from heat and let cool a bit.


Twice-baked Acorn Squash

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Another squash side dish I made recently was this twice-baked acorn squash. I halved the squash and cooked it, open-side down. Then I removed the seeds. I scraped the cooked squash into a bowl, leaving about a 1/4 inch cushion. 
Then I mixed beaten eggs, parmesan cheese, thawed and drained chopped spinach, chopped onion, and sea salt, and then piled it all back into the shells. Then I topped with some grated farmer cheese and put back in the oven until the cheese was nicely melted. This was really good and really filling! Nice way to get veggies.
Twice-Baked Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash
2 beaten eggs
6 oz spinach, thawed and drained (or fresh, chopped)
chopped onion to taste
parmesan to taste
sea salt to taste
about 3 oz shredded farmer cheese

Maple Glazed Acorn Squash

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Recently, I made a few side dishes from acorn squash. Actually, I just ate this for lunch all by itself, which is good, too! For this one, I just halved the squash, put the halves open-side down on a baking sheet, baked until tender, removed the seeds. 
While the squash was baking, I combined butter, pure maple syrup, sea salt, and chili powder, and let them boil down until they were syrupy and fairly thick. When the squash was done cooking, I drizzled the syrup all over the squash, then put it back in the oven for a while. You can put it under the broiler a few minutes if you are determined to keep a close eye on it.
I garnished with blended raw coconut ( you can use a good sour cream ) and chives. It was very yummy!
Maple Glazed Acorn Squash
1 acorn squash
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
dash of chili powder
dash of sea salt

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Dairy-Free Vegan Chocolate Pudding

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This is very good! I've been making it for a few years now. It tastes very, very much like regular chocolate pudding. However, there is no milk or dairy, and the recipe, as is, is totally raw except for the cocoa powder, which has probably been heat-treated. If you want it to be 100% raw, use ground raw cacao instead of cocoa powder.

2 cups raw coconut meat from young coconuts
1/2 cup raw honey
1/2 cup ground cocoa powder 
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
2 tsps vanilla
1/2 teaspoons sea salt

Put all in a heavy-duty blender or Vitamix and blend until smooth. Refrigerate for a day or so, if you can wait that long! It generally thickens a bit after a day or so. Very nice!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Italian Buttercream Frosting

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Yummy, yum, yum!!!  Have you ever made authentic Italian buttercream frosting? Once you have it, you will never want that premade canned stuff again.
Now, it's not as easy as a plain old buttercream frosting made by beating butter, powdered sugar, and vanilla together. It requires cooking a sugar syrup and then slowly adding it to beaten egg whites, making a lovely meringue, and then adding softened butter. 
You start by separating 5 eggs - you will be using only the whites, which you should place in a large bowl. Now, taking 1 1/4 cup extra fine sugar ( you can just run regular sugar through the coffee grinder for a few seconds ) and 1/4 cup water in a small saucepan, cook these together until the syrup reaches a temperature of 238* on a candy thermometer or the soft-ball stage when a tiny bit is dropped into a glass of cool water. Remove from heat. 
While the sugar syrup is slowly cooking, beat the 5 egg whites until stiff. Once the egg whites are stiff and the sugar syrup is at the soft-ball stage, slowly pour the sugar syrup into the egg whites, beating all the while, until you have a nice meringue. Now, gently beat in 3/4 cup of softened butter. NOT TOO SOFT or your frosting will be wimpy. NOT TOO COLD or your frosting will be lumpy. Soft enough that you can begin to squish the butter with your fingers.
You can now place your buttercream in the fridge for a while, if you like. I think this makes it a bit easier to pipe.
The icing I have pictured here was a little too soft, but still tasted wonderful. Don't worry if you don't get it right the first time. It takes a bit of practice, but it's well worth the effort. I finally had to quit practicing, though, 'cause it was really ruining my diet!

Italian Buttercream Icing

5 eggs, separated
1 1/4 cup superfine sugar
1/4 cup water
3/4 cup butter
1 tsp vanilla (optional)

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Hello, Cupcake!

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This book, "Hello, Cupcake!" by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson is chocked full of cute ideas for cupcake making. You've got your penguins, popcorn, and panda bears, you've got spaghetti and meatballs, you've got various kinds of dogs, some dolphins, alligators - all kinds of critter. Also, princesses, little tykes, bowling balls and pins, billiard balls, several kinds of flowers,

including sunflowers, garden vegetables, wedding cake cupcakes, and much more. Whew! That's a lot!

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Oriental Stir Fry Dishes

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Recently, I have been haunting a couple of Oriental food markets and making a lot of  Asian dishes completely from scratch. No more canned bean sprouts and water chestnuts. What a difference "fresh" makes!

For this dish, which I just threw together (kind of resembles chow mein, I guess), I cooked some chicken breast in a little oil while making a sauce of soy sauce, balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, organic, unbleached sugar, a little red chili paste and a little sea salt.  Then I put the chicken bits in the sauce and let it simmer on low for a while. I didn't measure any of this; just went by taste.

In another pan, I put some oil, threw in some sliced carrots and sliced celery, let that cook for a few minutes while chopping some onion, bok choy, and peeling and slicing some water chestnuts. I threw those things into the mixture, holding back the tops of the bok choy for a little bit more since they cook much more quickly than the bottoms. I also added the fresh bean sprouts at this point and stir-fried for a bit. Then I threw in the bok choy tops and some cut green onions.

Then I put a little cornstarch and water into my sauce to thicken it up and added it to the vegetable mixture. We could have had it with rice or noodles, but I thought it was really good just like this.

Homemade Pizza Crust

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I love, love, love making pizza! It took me a while to get it down to where I would actually rather have a homemade pizza than to get it from a good pizza place, but it was worth all the years of trial and error.

I usually make one large (18") and two mediums (12") with this recipe. You can cut it in half, or put half the dough in the freezer for later use.

I usually put no oil or fat in my pizza crust. I often brush the crust with butter after baking is finished. You can put a tablespoon or so in the dough, if you wish, or you can drizzle the crust with olive oil before topping. Whatever you like.

2 cups warm water
1 slightly heaping tablespoon (TBSP) of good yeast
2 cups unbleached flour

Whisk these together to allow the sponge to form. After it is bubbly and about doubled in size, add:

1 teaspoon (tsp) sea salt
1 or 2 teaspoons (tsp) sugar ( or you can leave it out completely )
1 1/2 to 2 more cups unbleached flour ( I usually reserve some of this for the kneading process. Feel free to add more while kneading until it seems right.)

Knead for about 15 minutes, until smooth and elastic. ( If you don't want to knead it the whole time, it will have about the same effect if you just let it set for about 15 minutes and then come back and knead it for 5 minutes or so. )

Divide the dough as needed for your pizzas.

Place each ball of dough on a greased pizza pan and cover with a cloth. Allow it to rise until about doubled in size.  With greased hands, spread your dough out over the pan, working from the middle out. Poke holes all over with a fork. Let rise again for ten to fifteen minutes, more if needed.

You can put your crust in the oven for a few minutes before topping, or just begin topping as it.

Bake at about 425* til done.


Friday, March 16, 2012

Homemade Apple Nut Bread

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There is just something so wonderful about making homemade bread. I love the kneading: It makes me feel like Caroline Ingalls in my little house on the prairie. Okay, so I don't have a little house, and there is no prairie, but when that bread comes out of the oven, I get a country feeling every time.

This particular loaf of bread was made with unbleached white flour, whole wheat flour, oat flour, freshly squeezed apple juice, fresh apple bits, and chopped walnuts. It was really wonderful toasted and slathered with real butter.

I wish I could give the exact recipe. I hardly ever measure when I'm making bread, so it gets a bit challenging to share recipes. Basically, I started with a cup of warm water and a cup of fresh apple juice, added a rounded tablespoon of yeast, and let that sit a few minutes. Then I added about 2.5 cups of unbleached flour and let my sponge form for an hour or so. Then I added about a teaspoon of salt, two tablespoons of sugar, and - here's where the real guessing comes in - about a cup of oat flour, a cup of whole wheat, and then I kneaded in more whole wheat flour. I left the dough a little soft, because I knew the flours would expand once they got wet. After rising another hour to hour and a half, I shaped my loaves (it made this one big loaf and two mini-loaves), and let them rise another half hour or so. Times are very approximate, and always depend upon things like room temp and humidity. I like to go by the look of my dough rather than the time to decide when it's finished rising.

Anyway, very, very yummy!

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Traditional Welsh Cakes - Delightfully Different!

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I first found recipes for traditional Welsh cakes when I went searching for traditional Welsh recipes after reading an article about Welsh shepherds. I was a bit reticent at first. A rolled dough cooked up on a griddle? But I fell in love with them! 

They are a bit different - kind of like a cross between a scone and a cookie. I followed the recipe found on the You Tube video found HERE, but I added cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg, as suggested in other Welsh cake recipes. It made a nice combination with the currants. Or you can omit the currants and spices and add lemon and lemon zest for a nice variation. I should tell you, however, that I got a message on another blog from a lady in Wales saying that Welsh cakes with the spices and variations are not really Welsh cakes. I say, do your own thing, at least when it comes to goodies.
Traditional Welsh cakes are easy to make and a nice take-along snack.

Fluffy Pancakes

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Pancakes were the first thing I ever learned to make well, so I get an especially good feeling when I make them. This recipe is actually one I came up with on my own, about thirty-five years ago, messing around with it until I got it right. At the time, I knew absolutely nothing about cooking, so it's amazing it turned out so well. It was several years, though, before I learned the real secret, which is not an ingredient, but a technique--letting the batter rest for 20 minutes before cooking the cakes. It lets the gluten chains form and results in a much fluffier pancake.