Wednesday, 21 May 2008

My First Entry - Chicken Soup

Ok... now that I've decided to begin my career as a food blogger, where do I begin? I don't feel so well right now, so I decided to make a pot of chicken soup for myself. Seemed like the thing to do... Chicken Soup is also a basic staple of cooking - once you know what goes into chicken soup, it is easily converted to veggie soup, chicken stew, chicken noodle, beef stew - anything you like!

This is the same basic recipe I use for my Slow Cooker Chicken Stew and Thick and Hearty Chicken and Dumplings. I've met with a bit of resistance from people making my recipe, because of all the "wasted" veggies, and here is where I will explain the reasons.

First, we'll start with the chicken. My recipe should really be entitled, "How to make homemade chicken stock into chicken soup". If you have an older cookbook (or one that's based on an older version - like Joy of Cooking) you may have a recipe for 'stock'. Newer cookbooks usually leave that recipe out - since we can use canned broth or bullion. Stock is simply water that has something extracted into it - in our case, chicken and vegetables. This is accomplished by long boiling. Back to the chicken... it is important to use dark meat chicken for 2 reasons.

  1. The dark meat of the chicken has more flavor, due to the higher fat content of the meat. People like fattier foods for this very reason. Now before you go all 'health-nut' on me, let me explain. The fat is where the flavor lies, but after we get all that flavor into our stock, the fat is removed by skimming. The same holds true for baking chicken. Even if you don't eat the chicken skin or fat, leave it on during baking. It keeps the chicken moist, and imparts flavor, but then the skin is taken off revealing succulent, tasty meat beneath!

  1. The bones. Back to my cookbook reference, your stock recipe will tell you to use chicken bones left over from baked chicken. If you don't have them, the recipe will tell you to cook raw bones in oil to release the flavors before making stock. The bone marrow is considered a delicacy in many cultures and is fought over by the children. All of this flavor is needed to make a rich stock, and again - any fats will be skimmed off at the end. A chicken breast just doesn't have what it takes - no fat, no bones, not much flavor. Especially when you consider how much water we're using.

OK - enough about the chicken, on to the veggies. If you look at my recipe, you'll see that I use 1 batch of veggies to boil at the beginning, throw them all away, and use a second set for the final soup. This looks terribly wasteful - why throw away all those good veggies instead of eating them? Let me give you a real life demonstration. Why do we steam carrots (for instance)? Picture a perfectly steamed carrot - just tender enough to pierce with a fork, still a bit crisp. Most of the nutrients have been retained - that's why we steam, and don't boil - the nutrients and flavors don't leach out into the water and get thrown away. Now picture an over-done carrot. Limp, light colored, squishy, and without flavor. It's all been boiled away.

So... what if it's the carrot water we wanted to save? If you wanted to make carrot-flavored-water, you'd boil the life out of that carrot, then have nicely flavored water. That's exactly what we're going for here. We want to keep the juices... the veggies have nothing left to give after long boiling - if you ate them, they'd be squishy, life-less and vitamin-less. It's all been boiled away - into our stock.

The only other comment I have about veggies, is why I don't peel them. It's amazing how much flavor we peel away to prepare vegetables. Of course, we can't eat onion peels - they're dirty, may contain bacteria, and are tough and gross in our mouths. But the flavor can't be beat, and since we're throwing all the solid vegetables away, and we're trying for a rich bold stock, we want all the concentrated flavor we can get! So, I just cut the initial batch of veggies into chunks without peeling. (At this blog, a different result is had using the same basic techniques - she makes concentrated stock. Note the whole veggies - the same as I've described them here.) You'll see a marked difference if you make 2 batches of stock - for 1, use chicken breast and peeled vegetables, and only cook it long enough to tenderize the veggies then eat them. For the other, follow my methods. You'll never go back.
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Basic Chicken Soup

Just one more comment on the veggies. Every basic soup stock requires onion, celery and carrots. This applies to chicken, beef, fish and vegetable stocks. (Get a hold of a traditional cookbook - it will back me up) Even if you aren't partial to celery, for instance, it isn't the flavor of celery that you will taste. It's the combination of those 3 vegetables that come together to create the well-rounded, over all flavor of a good stock. Now, on to the recipe.

3 lbs chicken parts (preferably dark meat, frozen or thawed)
10 cups water
7 carrots
5 stalks celery
2 onions
4-8 cloves garlic (depending on how much you like garlic - 4 cloves will just add a touch of flavor)
2 chicken bullion cubes (this adds many various seasonings and salt - i haven't been able to discover exactly which herbs they contain, so I still use them)
1 t. salt
1 T. parsley (dried)
1/2 t. ground pepper

  1. Place chicken (frozen or fresh) and water into bottom of a large soup pot. Chunk these vegetables, unpeeled, into about 2" pieces and add - 3 carrots, 2 celery, 1 onion, 4 cloves garlic (cut them in half. No need to peel the onions either, and add extra garlic 'paper' from the outside of your bulb). Add 2 bullion cubes - no need to crush.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for about 2 hours. The chicken will be done after about 1 hour, but we want to be sure to get all the veggie juices.
  3. Pour through a colander over a very large bowl. Remove the chicken, throw away the veggies. Shred chicken when it is cool enough to handle, throw away any fat, skin and bones.
  4. Cut remaining carrots into quarters lengthwise, then slice, mince celery, chop onion.
  5. Rinse out your pot to remove any veggie skins, then put the stock, veggies and remaining spices over high heat and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer and cook just until the veggies are tender - about 10 minutes. Taste and adjust salt and pepper to taste.

This is the basic chicken soup. Use this exact same recipe to make beef soup - just change the meat (be sure it is in small pieces - better with bones!).

Of course, if you're just after the stock, to use in another recipe, it's ready to go after you strain out the veggies and chicken. For my "sick-day-soup" I doubled the garlic and added chunks of un-peeled ginger to the first boil to add helpful nutrients. Refrigerate the stock (before or after finishing the soup) to firm up the fats on top, then skim them off if you like. I don' t usually bother - there's not that much. For Chicken Noodle, just add about 2-3 C. of egg noodles with the veggies once the soup is boiling- they should take 10 minutes to cook.

Thick and Hearty Chicken and Dumplings

Traditional Chicken and Dumplings but made using whole wheat! It really adds a deep, nutty, more filling quality than those old white ones! This is one of my all-time-favorite comfort foods. I guess it must bring back memories, although I don't remember having it more than a few times as a kid. Just something about the parsley, I think. For more information about how I make my chicken stock, visit this posting.

Let me comment on the fat content of this recipe. You may be tempted to reduce the amount of oil called for when making the roux for the stew. Don't do it. In order for the heavy dumplings to float, the stew must by thick enough to support them. A small reduction in the roux will mean a significant reduction in the thickness. The dumplings will sink. Even if they don't completely submerge (which mine did upon experimentation) they will still be gummy inside - they should have the consistency of a well-baked biscuit. Dry and light inside. Just tell yourself that it's "comfort food day" and enjoy a little bit of oil. It's olive oil, after all... Also, whole wheat flour won't make the roux as thick - I tried that as well. The gluten is not available because the flour is not as fine.
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Thick and Hearty Chicken and Dumplings

For Stew:
3 lbs chicken parts (any parts, frozen or thawed)
6 cups water
6 carrots
4 stalks celery
2 onions
2 chicken bullion cubes
1/2 C. olive oil/drippings
1/2 C. white flour
1 t. salt
1 T. parsley (dried)
1/2 t. ground pepper
1/2 t. garlic powder

For Dumplings:
1 C. WW flour
1/2 C. white flour
1 T. parsley (dried)
2 rounded t. baking powder
1/2 t. salt
3 T. shortening or butter
3/4 C. milk (a bit over full, but not 1C)

Prepare Stock:
  1. Place chicken (frozen or fresh) and water into bottom of a 4 qt. dutch oven. Chunk these vegetables into about 2" pieces and add - 3 carrots, 2 celery, 1 onion (no need to peel). Add 2 bullions cubes - no need to crush.
  2. Bring to a boil, reduce to simmer for about 2 hours or until chicken is done.
  3. Pour through a colander over a very large bowl. Remove the chicken, throw away the veggies. Shred chicken when it is cool enough to handle, throw away any fat, skin and bones.
  4. Cut remaining carrots into quarters lengthwise, then slice, mince celery, chop onion.
  5. Heat oil (skim stock and use part drippings if you like) in bottom of dutch oven until hot. Add 1/2 C white flour and whisk until no lumps remain. Cook over med. heat for about 2 minutes.
  6. Add stock about 2 cups at a time, whisking well after each addition to remove lumps. When all stock has been added, reduce to low simmer. Add chopped veggies, shredded chicken and spices. Stir occasionally, scraping bottom well.

Prepare Dumplings:
  1. Mix flours, baking powder, salt and parsley in med. bowl. Cut in shortening using pastry blender, 2 knifes, or mashing with your fingers. Stir in milk, and allow to sit for 1-2 minutes - mixture will thicken.
  2. Bring stew to a slow boil. When carrots are almost tender (it is difficult to pierce with fork) stir stew well and then drop dumplings by spoon onto meat and veggies - you should get about 10. Be sure there is meat to land on - if they hit just liquid, they'll sink and get mushy.
  3. Cook in boiling stew for 10 minutes UNCOVERED. Then cook for 10 minutes COVERED. No Peeking! Dumplings should have risen and be firm and fully cooked inside.
  4. Serve 1 or 2 dumplings in a bowl, smothered with stew - enjoy!!

Un-Stuffed Peppers

A casserole twist on an old favorite. Great for when you don't have enough peppers for all your dinner party. For people who don't like brown rice – you don't notice the heavier texture mixed in with the beef. It's a good way to learn to like your whole grains!
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Un-stuffed Peppers

3-4 bell peppers (any colors - one of each is very nice, and the colored ones are sweeter)
1 lb. lean ground beef
1 onion, chopped
2 C. cooked brown rice (white will do fine)
1 t. salt

appx. 1 t. each of:
basil
ground mustard
cumin
parsley
garlic powder
(these are minimums - I usually just sprinkle and taste...)

½ t. black pepper
¼ t. red pepper
16 oz. tomato sauce, divided
1 C. shredded mozzarella

  1. Brown ground beef and onions in medium skillet until beef is done. Drain and pour into a large bowl.
  2. Cut peppers into ½” pieces, add to bowl along with cooked rice.
  3. Add seasonings and 12 oz. of tomato sauce – mix well.
  4. At this point, taste the mixture and adjust the seasonings to your taste. It the tomato flavor is too acidic, add about 1 t. of sugar, mix and taste. It will also lose some acidity as it bakes - don't make it too sweet.
  5. Pour mixture into 9x13 pan, or 12” round, deep casserole. Spread remaining tomato sauce over top. Cover with foil and bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes, or until mixture is bubbly around edges.
  6. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and bake or broil until cheese is browned.
  7. This can be easily covered and refrigerated or frozen - to be baked later.
HINT ABOUT FREEZING: Huge tip here - line your casserole dish with 2 layers of heavy-duty foil. Fill, freeze, then remove the foil. You get your pan back, while the casserole stays wrapped in foil for the freezer - it will fit your pan perfectly when you're ready to bake, and no clean up!


Carrie's Catfish Larue

Finally, something to do with catfish besides frying it! A blend of tomatoes and Italian seasonings make this a mild fish dish. Great if you don't like that sometimes overpowering catfish taste. For a stronger fish flavor, try making the sauce and serving over grilled or broiled fish.
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Carrie's Catfish Larue

3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
1/2 onion, diced
1/2 green bell pepper, diced
1 carrot, peeled and diced
8 (4 ounce) fillets catfish fillets
salt and black pepper to taste
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
garlic powder to taste
1 (14 ounce) can diced Italian tomatoes (undrained)
1 (8 ounce) can tomato sauce
1/2 cup dry white wine

  1. Place 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Sautee onion, green pepper, and carrot until golden brown; remove from the pan.
  2. Using the remaining 2 tablespoons of oil, sear all of the fillets on both sides. Then, lay all of the fillets into the skillet, sprinkle with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, and garlic powder. Top with the sauteed vegetables, and pour on the diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, and white wine.
  3. Bring to a simmer, and cook gently until the sauce has thickened slightly, and fish flakes easily with a fork, about 10 minutes.

Easy Ground Beef Pot Pie

This is a great make-ahead-and-freeze recipe for 3 beef pot pies! It's easy to make, but still tastes completely homemade because it uses real gravy, not canned. I usually make one, and freeze the rest of the filling in 2- 1 qt. freezer bags to have a quick and easy dinner in a pinch! Or, leave out the crust and bake all the filling in one greased 9x13 pan for a great casserole.
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Easy Ground Beef Pot Pie

2 lbs. lean ground beef
2 onions, chopped
1 t. thyme
6 t. beef bullion granules, or 6 cubes, crushed
3 C. frozen country hashbrowns (the cubed kind)
2 C. frozen mixed vegetables
1 C. frozen peas
1C frozen corn
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
5 T. butter
1/2 C. flour
5-6 C. milk
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 t. pepper
3 double 9" crusts (leave these out for casserole)

  1. Pre-heat oven to 350.
  2. Brown ground beef in very large skillet (or use 2 smaller skillets) when beef is about half-way cooked, add chopped onion. When beef is fully cooked and onions are tender, add thyme and beef bullion. Stir well and remove from heat.
  3. Mix all frozen veggies and cheese in a very large mixing bowl. Add ground beef mixture and mix well.
  4. In med. saucepan melt butter. Add flour and stir constantly with a whisk. At 2 min, it will look grainy, at 4 min it should look like a liquid again, at about 6 min, it should have a nice brown color and a nutty fragrance.
  5. Add milk, 1C at a time WHISKING WELL AFTER EACH ADDITION. Now is the time to remove lumps. Add enough milk to make a 'gravy'. When it looks perfect, add 1/2 C more milk - it will thicken in the oven. Season with garlic and pepper to taste. No salt is needed - the bullion will add plenty.
  6. Pour the gravy over the meat and veggies in the large bowl and mix well.
  7. There should be about 12 C. of filling. Line a 9" deep dish pie pan with 1 crust, fill with 4 C. of filling and top with a second crust - fix the edge and slit the top as you like. Bake in a 350 oven for about 30 min, or until the crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and allow to set up for about 5 minutes before slicing.
  8. For the casserole pour all filling into a greased 9x13 dish (or put 4 cups into a small, greased casserole dish) and bake until hot and bubbly - about 25-30 min.
  9. Freeze remaining filling in 2-1 qt. freezer bags.

Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

Throw this yummy stew together in just 20 minutes and dinner is ready when you come home. It can be served as a clear soup or, for an extra 10 min, a creamy stew. Thighs are used for that rich dark-meat flavor, and are easy to de-bone after they are cooked.
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Slow Cooker Chicken Stew

3 chicken thighs (frozen or fresh)
3 medium potatos (regular, sweet or both)
5-6 carrots
1 onion
2 cloves garlic
2 cans chicken broth + extra water
1 T. parsley
2 t. rosemary
1 t. freshly cracked pepper
2 t. chicken bullion (2 cubes)

optional:
1/3 C. butter
1/3 C. flour

  1. Remove skin and fat from chicken thighs, and place on the bottom of a 4 qt. slow cooker. (you can use frozen-solid chicken too - the skin and fat can be removed later)
  2. Wash and chop into cubes potatos, carrots and onion and layer into cooker. Mince garlic and sprinkle on top.
  3. Add spices and pour broth over top. Liquid should come ALMOST to the top of the vegetables. If not, top up with more broth or water.
  4. Set cooker to low and cook for about 6-8 hours. Don't use the high setting for only 4 hours - the herbs and spices turn very bitter with that much heat. (I tried! If you must cook it faster, leave out all the herbs and spices until your soup comes out of the cooker - add them to your pot on the stove, and simmer about 10 minutes)
  5. After 6-8 hours, pour contents through a colander over a large bowl. The chicken should be right on top and can be easily de-boned on a cutting board with a knife and fork.
  6. The chicken, broth and vegetables can now be mixed back together and eaten as a clear soup OR:
  7. Melt 1/3 C. butter in a heavy bottomed pot. Add 1/3 C. flour and whisk smooth. Cook for 3 min., stiring constantly. Add 2 C. stock, and whisk until smooth. Add remaining stock and bring to a simmer. Check taste, add veggies and chicken, and serve with crusty french bread or corn bread!

Italian Vegetable and Pasta Sautee

A beautiful, colorful way to use fresh produce from your garden. If you don't tell, no one will know that it's good for them! This is one of the few recipes that I can claim, 100% - I made it up one day after a trip through my garden.
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Italian Vegetable and Pasta Sautee

1 zucchini
1 yellow squash
1 onion
3 T. olive oil
1/4 t. salt
1/2 t. oregano
1/4 t. thyme
1/4 t. black pepper
1/4 t. garlic powder
1/4 t. onion powder
1 lg. tomato (or 1 can diced tomatoes)
2 C. dried garden spiral pasta
parmesan cheese (optional)
fresh black pepper (optional)

  1. Cut zucchini and squash in half, then slice into 1/2 inch pieces. Dice onion. Combine in a med. bowl. Add olive oil and all spices, mix well, and marinate for 20 min (or overnight, covered in fridge.)
  2. Dice tomato and place in colander over the sink (or drain canned tomatoes in colander) Bring 2 qt. lightly salted water to a rolling boil. Boil pasta for 1 min. less than the package directs. Drain pasta over tomatoes.
  3. Sautee marinated vegetables in a large, heavy skillet for about 10 min, or until onion begins to caramelize and squash begins to brown. Add pasta and tomatoes and cook until hot, and noodles crisp on the edges. Top individual servings with freshly grated Parmesan cheese and cracked pepper.

Creamy 100% Fruit Smoothie

A real, 100% fruit smoothy that is creamy without milk, ice, or ice cream! No processed sweeteners make this 100% delicious and 100% good for you!
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Creamy 100% Fruit Smoothie

1/4 C. frozen (thawed) fruit juice concentrate (any type)
3/4 C. water
1 banana
Others as you Like:
frozen strawberries, blueberries, peaches, raspberries, blackberries, canned or fresh pineapple

  1. This is a basic fruit smoothie recipe. From here you can make any flavor you like! The secret to a creamy milk-free smoothie are the bananas. Peel a bunch of bananas, break them in half, and place them in a gallon freezer bag and store in the freezer. They will break apart easily later. This, along with other frozen fruits will act as the thickener in your smoothie. Frozen peaches make a great thickener but they don't add much flavor- so you can use them even when you don't want a peach taste. I find that frozen fruits are cheaper than fresh, and they keep SOOO much longer!
  2. The basic recipe is as follows: Place 1/4C. fruit juice concentrate and 3/4C. water in your blender. With the blender running, add 1 whole banana (2 frozen pieces).
  3. Now it's up to you! Below are some suggestions.

  1. Strawberry banana smoothie: Use orange or apple juice concentrate, 1 banana, and add about 6-7 frozen strawberries to the basic shake. Also, i really enjoy using white grape/peach juice concentrate on this one!
  2. Tropical Smoothie: Begin with orange juice concentrate, but instead of water, add an 8 oz. can of pineapple tidbits (in juice) and 2T coconut, along with your banana. If the shake is not thick enough, add another banana half or some frozen peaches.
  3. Berry Blast Shake: Begin with apple juice concentrate and water, add 1 banana and 1/4C. each of blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries - or your favorite combination!
  4. Peanut Butter Banana Smoothie: This one is not quite so good FOR you, but Oh So Good! Start with 1 C. milk, or for dairy-free use 1C. water. Add 3-4 banana pieces, 2-4T. peanut butter, and more banana or peaches to thicken. For a real treat, add 1T chocolate chips or chocolate syrup!

Asparagus with Pecans and Parmesan

This is one of my very favorite ways to serve asparagus. The tasty green spring flavor comes through, but is well mixed with the toasted nuts and cheese. It's fairly easy and quick to prepare, especially if you prep everything by washing and chopping earlier in the day.
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Asparagus with Pecans and Parmesan

1 bunch asparagus spears, ends trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
1 (8 ounce) package sliced mushrooms
1 onion, minced
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon dried basil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese

  1. Place asparagus in a 12" skillet with 1/2" water and steam until fork-tender. Place on a serving plate and keep warm.
  2. Use the same skillet to melt butter over medium-high heat. Once melted and beginning to brown, saute the onions until they begin to turn clear, about 5 min. Add mushrooms and cook until tender. Season with garlic powder, basil, salt and pepper. Stir in the chopped pecans, and cook for a minute more.
  3. Pour over the asparagus in the serving dish and sprinkle with cheese, and cover with a lid. Serve when cheese has melted.

French Vanilla Ice Cream

I know that this is not an original recipe, but I'm sure can't remember where it came from. Oh well...
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French Vanilla Ice Cream

3 eggs
1 C. white sugar
2 C. milk (any type except skim)
2 C. light cream (half 'n' half)
1 T. vanilla

  1. Beat the eggs and milk in a medium saucepan, then add sugar.
  2. Cook over low-med heat, stirring constantly with a wire whisk, until mixture thickens - about 10 minutes. Remove from heat as soon as it's thick. Constant stirring will keep the egg from curdling. If your egg does curdle, strain through a fine mesh seive after cooking is complete, and you'll be fine.
  3. Cool, then add cream and vanilla. I use homemade vanilla, which is slightly weaker than the store bought variety - start with 2 t. and adjust to taste. Since the eggs are cooked, go ahead and have a spoonful... it's warm custard right now!
  4. Freeze according to the directions that come with your ice cream machine.

Out of This World Chocolate Syrup

I found this recipe floating out on the internet, because they don't have Hershey's Chocolate Syrup here in the UK. Chocolate milk is a favorite for both Matt and I, and Hershey's Syrup was a staple at home. Now, Matt tells me that I'm not allowed to buy Hershey's, even when we get back to the states because this is so much better. Once you taste this, Hershey's won't taste like Chocolate anymore. Seriously... try them side by side on your finger... And, of course, no corn syrup or chemical preservatives. I use this syrup to make wonderful chocolate milk, and just mix it up stronger and heat it in the microwave or over the stove for hot chocolate. And don't even get me started about when I poured it over homemade French Vanilla Ice Cream and fresh strawberries...
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Out Of This World Chocolate Syrup

1/2 cup cocoa (any brand)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 dash salt

  1. Whisk together cocoa, sugar, and salt in a medium heavy saucepan(make sure it's larger than you think you'll need). Add water and mix until smooth.
  2. Bring this mixture to a boil. Allow it to boil for 2 minutes after it comes to a rolling boil (use a timer - don't guess). Be careful this does not boil over.
  3. Remove from heat, and when cooled add vanilla. Will appear really runny but will thicken up as it cools.
  4. Stores (from what I can tell) rather indefinitely - covered in the fridge. If you have a large, empty Hershey's bottle, you can double the recipe and put it in there!

Simple Homemade Hot Chocolate

Have you seen the movie Chocolat? It was Vianne's hot chocolate that inspired this thick creamy drink. "Instant" hot chocolate won't even taste like chocolate anymore! And it's so simple!!

Update: Since discovering this tasty treat, I've found an easier, tastier way! And the new way can make chocolate milk too... visit that posting over here.
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Simple Homemade Hot Chocolate

4 heaping T. cocoa powder
8 heaping T. white sugar
16 oz. milk, divided

  1. Mix cocoa and sugar together in a med. saucepan. Add 1/2 the milk, and whisk thoroughly until all the powder is absorbed, then add remaining milk.
  2. Heat over med/low heat, whisking about every 1 min, scraping the bottom and corners well, until tiny bubbles just break the surface.
  3. Serve in heavy mugs with mini-marshmallows or whipped cream.

Your Mom's Macaroni and Cheese

Actually, this recipe is my mom's. Roughly... the secret is in the cheddar. Use the oldest, most mature, sharpest cheddar you can find. In the states, it's usually listed as 'extra' sharp or 'New York' sharp. Regular sharp just won' t cut it! If you've ever had my mac 'n' cheese, you'll understand why.
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Your Mom's Macaroni and Cheese

8 oz. elbow macaroni
1/4 C. butter (1/2 stick)
1/2 onion, diced finely
1/4 C. flour
1/2 t. salt
1/4 t. black pepper
1/2 t. granulated garlic, or garlic powder
2-3 C. milk
8 oz. extra sharp cheddar cheese, shredded

  1. Pre-heat oven to 375.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Cook pasta according to package directions until al dente (just a tiny bit tough - usually 1 minute less than the directions) Drain and set aside.
  3. Melt butter in a medium sauce pan. Add onions and saute until onions are translucent - about 5 min. Add salt, pepper and garlic powder. (it might sound gross, but the garlic really is necessary!) Add flour and whisk together. Cook, whisking frequently, until butter mixture is beginning to turn brown - about 5 min.
  4. Add 1 C. of milk, and whisk until very thick and all lumps are gone. Continue to add milk until it is the consistency of pudding.
  5. Over low heat, add cheese, and stir until melted. It is very important to use EXTRA sharp cheddar - that's where the incredible taste comes from - even regular sharp won't do it.
  6. The cheese sauce should be a little thin, so add more milk if necessary. Adjust seasonings to taste. Add pasta to sauce and stir well.
  7. Pour into a greased 8x8 pan and bake for about 30 min or until top browns and the edges bubble.

Authentic Indian Naan

This Naan bread is as close as I've seen to restaurant quality. It's certainly a far cry better then the pre-packaged stuff you buy at the store (if you can even find it!) I adapted this recipe from one of Emeril's over at Food Network, changing the method of preparation. I tried it in the oven (his method), and that's where it failed - the skillet version makes a soft, light bread - perfect for eating with curry
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Authentic Indian Naan Bread

2 t. yeast
1 t. sugar
1 C. warm water, 120 degrees
2 C. flour, more for kneading
1 t. salt
1 stick (1/2 C) butter + olive oil

  1. Mix yeast and sugar into water, and rest for about 5 min or until foamy.
  2. Meanwhile, clarify butter. Melt butter in a small saucepan. Allow to boil briefly, then remove from heat. After butter has cooled slightly, the foam will be solid enough to remove with a spoon. Butter should be clear, not cloudy. Measure again, and add olive oil to get 1/2 C.
  3. Stir flour and salt together in a medium bowl. Make a well in the middle and add yeast mixture and butter. Mix together with one hand - it will be soupy. Add enough flour to make a very soft dough, then knead for 3 min. It can be a little sticky. Place in a bowl greased with oil or butter and rise until doubled in a warm place, about 45 min.
  4. Gently deflate dough and turn out onto lightly floured surface. Divide dough into 12 equal pieces. Roll dough into thin rounds, about 6-8" each.
  5. Heat a large, heavy (cast iron preferably) skillet over med-high heat. Add a TINY amount of butter - we're talking almost none. You should have to scrape the bottom of the skillet with a spatula to spread it around. The butter will be dark and smoking by now. Place the rolled out dough onto the butter, flip after 30 seconds. Flatten the bubbles with your spatula to help the other side brown evenly.
  6. Serve with any indian dish, roll around sandwich meats and cheese, stuff with taco mix or hummus!

Authentic Indian Curry

This recipe is from our church missionaries Abraham and Lilian Ephriam when they were here on furlough from India. This curry will surpass any you've tasted in the best Indian restaurant! It is well worth the time and extra spices needed! Traditionally, only chicken would have been used - no veggies at all (except as flavorings)! But, they said that these veggies would be "ok"...
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Authentic Indian Curry

1/4 C. oil
1 cinnamon stick
2-4 whole cloves
1 whole dried hot pepper
1 onion
5 cloves garlic, peeled
2" piece ginger root, peeled
1/4 C. fresh mint, chopped
1/4 C. fresh cilantro
3 tomatoes (1 diced)
salt to taste
3 chicken breasts, diced
1-1/2 T. curry powder
1 T. coriander
1/2 T. cumin
1-1/2 T. turmeric
2 potatoes, diced
3 carrots, diced
1 onion, diced
1 can coconut milk

Before you begin, chop all the veggies, dice the chicken, and do this preparation:
In the blender, combine 1 onion, garlic and ginger until pureed. Pour into a small bowl and set aside.
Blend 2 tomatoes, mint and cilantro, set aside

1. In a very large skillet, saute cinnamon, cloves, and hot pepper in oil for 3-5 min. If you break open the pepper, you'll have a fairly hot dish. Leave it whole, and the heat will be quite subtle. Sprinkle some cayenne in at the end if it's still not hot enough to suit you.
2. Add onion puree to skillet and saute 2 min. Add tomato puree to skillet, saute 2 min.
3. Add seasonings and chicken and saute 10 min. or until chicken is almost cooked through (still a bit pink is fine).
Add all diced vegetables and simmer until potatoes are soft, appx. 15 min. Add a small amount of water if necessary.
4. When everything is cooked through, remove from heat and stir in coconut milk - more or less to taste.

Serve over hot rice, and remember to warn your guests about the whole pepper, cloves and cinnamon stick!

Healthy Tasty Zucchini Bread

I've developed a few theories about the stuff it takes to make yummy veggie/fruit breads. Below is what I've come up with. I hope you can use what I've written here to make your own healthy, tasty breads!!

Comments on the ingredients:


Zucchini/Carrots:
My husband always asks, “What’s the zucchini for again?”. He can’t taste it, doesn’t see it, and doesn’t really think you get anything from it. Actually, baking doesn’t remove the nutritional value any more than steaming, sautéing, or other forms of cooking. It’s there to add fiber, and a serving of veggies… well, not quite a whole serving, but more than none at all! The recipe has 3 cups of zucchini - that's the same amount as the flour - a big part of the bread! I use a mixture of zucchini and carrots – either one or the other will work just fine.

Sugar:
This is the only ingredient in my bread that’s not-so-good for you. I had to leave something in to make the rest tasty enough to eat! I have not tried this bread with raw sugar, or replacing some sugar with honey or agave, but I’m sure they would work well. If you try any replacement sweeteners, let me know how it goes!

Applesauce:
This entirely replaces the oil in the traditional recipe. No fat at all in this bread! You don’t have to use chunky, but I like fruit in my bread, and this works really well. I use sweetened, but you could use unsweetened, of course.

Egg Replacer:
I use 2 eggs, and 2 “egg replacers” in this recipe. This cuts the cholesterol in half for this bread, and (for what I can get here in the UK) actually makes it cheaper to make. I haven’t tried to replace all 4 eggs yet, but I bet it would work just fine. I use Whole Egg Replacer, not just the whites. I can get soy replacer, so that also makes this bread vegan (if you replaced all 4). You will need to follow the instructions on your box of replacer. Most tell you to add the powder in with the dry ingredients, and add water to the wet ingredients. Just make sure to use the “2 eggs” directions.

Whole Grain Flour:
This is the healthiest part of the whole recipe. My loaf contains oat bran, ground flaxseed and whole wheat – no white flour is needed! Here’s what I do: take a 1 C. measure, pour oat bran in (I use roughly ½ C.) then add ground flaxseed (I use roughly 4 T) then top it off with wheat flour. That makes your first cup of flour – no need to measure everything separately, and remember how much you used. I use plain whole wheat for the rest. You can use any kind of flour here. Also, if you want a lighter textured bread, but still like the idea of whole-grain nutrition, you can use ¼ C. wheat bran with ¾ C. white flour. That’s roughly equal to a whole cup of whole wheat. It will be much lighter than whole wheat, without sacrificing nutrition. Or, add wheat germ or bran to your already whole wheat flour for even more nutrition!

Dried Fruit:
Very good for you – any kind will work. Raisins, apples, papaya – whatever interests you! Nearly all dried fruit contains iron – plus gives a chewy sweetness to the bread.

Nuts:
While nuts do contain oil, it’s usually the “good kind” of fat, and they also have lots of other benefits. I’ll list a few below.

Here is a summary of what’s good in this bread, along with my sources. I won’t list amounts, because it depends on how much you use, but it will give you an idea of what you’ll be feeding your family or guests!

Zucchini: manganese, Vit. C, and a very long list of others including some Omega 3!

Carrot: Vitamins A, K, C, fiber, potassium, B6

Applesauce: depends on what kind you use – but definitely more fruit, and NO FAT!

Eggs: Selenium, iodine, B2, protein, B12, phosphorus (the website gives
wonderful data on the benefits of eggs – I’m considering putting the other 2 eggs back into my recipe!)

Whole Wheat Flour: huge amounts of manganese, fiber, magnesium

Oat Bran: manganese, selenium, phosphorus, fiber, magnesium, protein

Flaxseed: The Omega 3 fatty acids are off the charts!! I add flaxseed to anything I can bake (since I don’t eat a lot of fish – the other great source). Be sure to use ground – the nutrition in whole seeds won’t get absorbed very well.

Dried Fruit: Nearly all dried fruits contain iron, and raisins also provide many other health benefits including American’s only source of boron!

Nuts: the following are popular nuts for baking breads – if you’re not a nut fan, try chopping finely or using ground nuts in place of some of your flour – you won’t taste them, and you’ll still gain the benefits!

Walnuts: Omega 3 (huge amounts), manganese, copper
http://www.whfoods.com/genpage.php?tname=foodspice&dbid=99#healthbenefits

Almonds: manganese, Vit. E, magnesium, monounsaturated fats (the good kind) which help reduce heart disease

Have fun feeding your family healthy, hearty, yummy Zucchini bread!!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~



Healthy Tasty Zucchini Bread


Ingredients:
3 cups shredded zucchini/carrots (I use 1 zucchini and 2 carrots)
1 2/3 C. sugar
2/3 C. chunky applesauce
2 t. vanilla
2 eggs
Egg replacer (2 eggs worth – see notes above)
3 C. whole grain flour (see notes)
2 t. baking soda
½ t. baking powder
1 t. salt
1 ½ t. cinnamon
½ t. cloves
½ c. dried fruit
½ c. chopped nuts

OK – the basic recipe.
1. Mix together the zucchini, sugar, applesauce, vanilla, eggs.
2. In another bowl, mix remaining ingredients.
3. Mix all together, pour into a 9x5 loaf pan (or 2 smaller ones) bottoms greased and bake at 350 for roughly an hour.
4. You can also make 24+ muffins with this recipe. Fill cups ¾ full, bake for 15-20 minutes.

This bread tends to be dense – test using a wooden pick, then (personally) I give it 10 minutes more after it comes out clean (lower the temp to 325 or cover with foil if it's too brown already). I ALWAYS have a soft spot in the middle if I don’t!

And a note on muffins. I find that they cook through more easily, and if you don' t use papers, are so much cleaner to eat that I prefer to grab one of those on my way out the door! You don't have to get out a knife and cutting board, and since they're basically "all crust" you don't have crumbs falling everywhere (a big plus if you're jumping in the car!) - I almost always make this bread in muffin form, ever since I tried it the first time.

Saturday, 10 May 2008

Carrie's Adapted Baby Sock

Carrie’s Adapted Baby Sock

Rib Top Chevron

Finished Sock Size – Infant sized

3” toe to heel

2 ¾” heel to cuff

4” foot circumference

Yarn

3 ply. 100% wool – 50g/230 meters

Needles

5 dpns – 3mm

Stitch Guide

Ssp: Slip 2 stitches individually kwise, return these 2 sts to left needle, purl them together through the back loops.

Sssp: Slip 3 stitches individually kwise, return these 3 sts to left needle, purl

them together through their back loops

YO: Bring working yarn forward under needle then up and over needle towards the rear – used in knit rows

YO backwards: YOB is made by placing the working yarn under the needle towards the rear, and then bringing it forward over needle – used in purl rows

Kitchner Stitch: Cut yarn from knitting – leave 18” of yarn. Divide sts evenly upon 2 needles – heel sts and instep sts. Thread yarn needle, and stitch as follows - insert yarn needle as P into front st, then as K into back st. Then follow pattern - knit-slip (front needle), purl-no slip (front needle), purl-slip (back needle) knit-no slip (back needle). Yarn should always be passed below needles

Beginning Leg:

CO 44 sts. Distribute evenly across 3 dpns. Place marker, then join for working in the round.

Ribbing:

Rnds 1-4: K2, P2

Rnd 5: K2, P2tog

Rnd 6-7: K2, P1

~33 sts remain~

Leg: Divide sts as follows, and remove marker:

9 sts on one dpn (working yarn to the right)

9 sts on next needle to the left

15 remaining sts on last needle

Chevron Lace: (CL) is worked over 9 sts and 6

rows. Work CL on each needle with 9 sts, and on the first 9 sts of the last needle – K the last 6 sts.

Chevron Lace:

Row 1: Knit entire row

Row 2: K2tog, YO, K5, YO, SSK

Row 3: Knit entire row

Row 4: K1, K2tog, YO, K3, YO, SSK, K1

Row 5: Knit entire row

Row 6: K2, K2tog, YO, K1, YO, SSK, K2

Work CL pattern twice – 12 rows, always

knitting final 6 sts on the last needle

(this will create chevrons pointing towards

the toe – reverse order of rows to make chevrons point toward cuff – alternate patterns to create diamonds)

Row 12 of CL: Make 1 st by picking up a bar

Beside one of the 6 knits

~34 stitches~

Rearrange Stitches: (use 4 dpns)

Place 17 sts on one dpn – center the 6Ksts

on that needle. This will split the side chevrons

4 sts on one needle on each side of 17 (side

needles)

9 sts on last needle (instep) – centered on

CL pattern

(if only 3 dpns are had, place the 9 CL sts and 4 sts to the left on same needle)

It may be necessary to knit forward to bring the working yarn to the right of the 17 sole sts – 1 entire knit row may be added if necessary

Heel:

Row 1: (RS – knit) Knit 16, turn

leaving 1 st unworked

Row 2: YOB, p to end – turn leaving last st

unworked

Row 3: YO, knit to paired sts, turn leaving

pair unworked

Row 4: YOB, purl to paired sts, turn leaving

pair unworked

Repeat rows 3 & 4 until 5 sts remain between pairs – end on purl (WS) row

Heel Cup:

Row 1: (RS) YO, knit to paired st, K1 (first

st of pair) correct mount of next st (so that leading edge is on the front of the needle) K2tog (corrected st and first st of next pair) leaving next YO – turn

Row 2: (WS) YOB, purl to paired st, P1

(first st of pair) SSP (the YO with the first st of next pair) leaving the YO (see stitch guide) – turn

Row 3: YO, knit to paired st, K1 (first st of

next pair) correct mount of next 2 sts, K3tog, turn

Row 4: YOB, purl to pair, P1 (first st of

next pair) SSSP – turn

Row 5: YO, knit to next pair, K1 (first st of

next pair) correct mount of next 2 sts, K3tog – turn

Repeat rows 4 & 5 until all YOs have been

consumed. The last turn will bring the right side facing – 1 YO left on needle

Joining Round:

YO, knit to YO at end of needle, place this YO on next needle then K2tog, knit to last stitch before sole, place this stitch on sole needle, then work as SSK – Round begins at beg of sole sts

Foot:

Work knit sts across sole needle and ‘side’ needles, and work 2 repetitions of Chevron Lace on center needle – 12 rows

When CL is complete, work 1 row of knit all the way around

Toe:

Work the same as for the heel – be sure the

correct sts are on the sole needle. Do not work joining round.

Join toe to foot using kitchner stitch. Weave

in all ends.

Options to change size of sock:

Increase length of foot/leg – add knit rows

between chevron repeats

Increase diameter – CO more stitches (an even

number) then:

  1. Add knits between Chevrons to keep 1 chevron centered on the instep, and move side chevrons farther to the sides

  2. You will not need to make an extra stitch after leg if there is an even number of sts.

  3. For rearranging – 9 sts should remain on the instep needle for working chevron. ½ of the total # of sts should be on the sole. Remaining sts will be on the “side” needles

  4. Heel/toe width is increased by increasing the number of stitches between pairs before forming heel cup. 5 sts ~ 1” heel width, 9 sts ~ 1 ½” heel width. Always end on WS row.