For those cold and blustery winter days

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: December 2010, Soups

Who doesn’t love a big bowl of homemade soup? Especially on those windy, cold, frosty, snowy winter days. I admit, I am a soup-a-holic. I could eat soup everyday of the week and twice on sundays. I used to enjoy soup from a can, until I started making my own soups, then they tasted too bland…not good enough anymore!

I had a special request to post my recipe for Italian Wedding soup so that is the one I am going to post first even though I am making my friend Jen’s moms French Soup this evening for supper.

It is your lucky day because its going to be a 2-for-1 and I will post both.

Italian Wedding Soup

According to Wikipedia: “The term “wedding soup” is a mistranslation of the Italian language, minestra maritata (“married soup”), which is a reference to the fact that green vegetables and meat go well together.”

Now be prepared. I do not measure when I make up a recipe. I had had wedding soup at restaurants and liked it fine but it wasn’t hearty enough for me. I knew it was a chicken broth based soup with meatballs, spinach and noodles but that was all that was in there and I wanted more.

I started by making my own chicken stock. You can do this by putting a few bone-in chicken breasts, thighs or wings in a stock pot, filling with water and adding carrots, celery and an onion. What I use instead is a leftover chicken carcass. Since I work shift work I tend to buy a lot of those pre-cooked BBQ chickens at the grocery store. We eat the breast meat and then I throw the carcass in a Ziploc bag for when I want to make soup. Now you do not need to do this at all, the boxes or cans of chicken broth will suffice however, making your own has so much more flavor and will therefore make a better soup.

If you do make your own, try to do this first step the day before you want to make the soup. That way the broth can chill and you can skim all the fat off the top.

Keep all the meat that falls off the bones (you may need to pick through the bones to find it all). We will add this back into the soup later.

Now to make the meatballs. I use lean beef and add panco bread crumbs (just enough to bind the meat), parsley (fresh if i have it dried if I don’t), fresh garlic and grated parmesan cheese. Add as much of these ingredients as you like. For a pound of beef I used a around 2Tbsps of parsley, 1tsp of garlic and about 1/3cup of parm cheese. Its all about your personal tastes.

After mixing all the ingredients together in a bowl, roll into teeny weeny balls. I make them very small so that when you have a spoonful of soup you taste everything…not just beef.

Cook these in the oven at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until lightly browned.  Drain off the grease and place into a bowl with paper towels to soak up any extra left over grease.  Set aside.

Put stockpot of broth onto the stovetop. You will want around 6 cups of liquid in the pot. If you taste it and find its not ‘chickeney’ enough just add a teaspoon or 2 of chicken bouillon granules (or a chicken bouillon cube diluted in hot water).

In a food processor grate some carrot, onion and celery into small pieces. Add to broth.

Add the chicken and meatballs to the broth.

The first time I made this soup I used Orzo noodles. I found these were too large once they absorbed the liquid. The second time I used Peperini noodles. These look like a bag of sand and can be found in the dry pasta section. They turned out to be the perfect size, reminiscent of star noodles from Campbells Chicken and Stars soup from when I was a kid.  Add your choice of noodles to the pot.

Bring to a rolling boil and then reduce heat. Simmer for 15 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste.

The last step is to add the spinach. You only want this to wilt but retain its bright green color.  Add the spinach to the pot about 3 minutes before eating.

Serve immediately. This is a time consuming recipe, about an hour or so from start to finish but believe me…it is A-MA-Zing and you will crave it on cold days. It freezes very well but if you are planning to freeze it I would leave out the spinach and only add it when you reheat to serve.

I hope you love this soup as much as I do!

Jen’s Moms French Soup

I have no idea why this is called a French Soup. Jen and her family are not french, they don’t speak french nor do I believe they understand much french. I know Jen loves french fries and i’m pretty sure there has probably been a little french kissing and french salad dressing (not at the same time I hope!). Jen swears this is the best soup when you are sick to help make you feel better.

It is a simple recipe and I will give it to you exactly as she had given it to me.

1 900ml box of chicken broth

1 onion, cut in 4 pieces

1 carrot, cut in 3 pieces

1 rib of celery, cut in 4 pieces

1 large can of diced tomatoes, put in blender

1/4 cup of rice

1/4 cup of barley

1 pkg chicken noodle soup mix

Add onion, carrot and celery pieces to chicken broth, simmer for 1 hour.  Remove previous ingredients from the broth and add remaining ingredients.  Simmer until everything is tender. Add water if necessary.

The only modifications I made were that i put the onion, carrot and celery in the food processor and left them in the broth. I wanted to actually have the veggies in the soup, not just the flavor.  Also, I just brought the broth to a boil and added everything (plus 2 cups of water), gave it a stir and reduced the heat to med-low and simmered for 40 minutes.

It was perfect. Just before eating I added a dollop of butter (to make it a little creamy) and a sprinkle of parsley.

MMMMM!!! So satisfying. I can see why she loves it as much as she does. Next time I will make biscuits to go along with it.

Another modification that could be made is…since there is no meat in the soup you could use vegetable stock instead of chicken stock and VOILA, you’ll have a 100% vegetarian soup!

love, peace and chicken grease

-A Cooped Up Chick

HAPPY NEW YEARS!!

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Beverages, December 2010

So its always nice to have a festive, fun new cocktail drink recipe…just in time for New Years.

Ok, I don’t really do much of anything on New Years. In fact my tradition the past 2 or 3 years has been to treat myself to lobster, a new movie rental and some booze (alone) and ring in the New Year slightly inebriated on the couch.  It works for me.

At our work potluck, my manager made a really yummy punch of Cranberry-Raspberry Ocean spray, Orange Juice and 7Up. It was super good but as I was sipping all I could think was “Mmmm…wouldn’t it be even BETTER with vodka?? MMMM!!” Well a couple of days later I was getting groceries and decided, lets find out! So I purchased the 7Up and a PC brand can of concentrated orange juice and headed over to the juice aisle. Lo and behold there was a plethora of Cran-Raspberry, Cran-Blueberry, Cran-This, Cran-That! What was a girl to do? I started reading the many different Cran varieties and found the winner. Cranberry-Black Cherry. Oh boy oh boy.

I quickly totaled and settled up at the cash and it was off to the liquor store. I am usually more of a rum girl but I just felt vodka would be the thing. In the liquor store I was again faced with a quandary.  Regular vodka, Vanilla vodka, Blueberry vodka…then i found Raspberry vodka. We are all set.

Got home and realized the amount of liquid I had bought and got out 3 rubbermaid pitchers. I made the frozen orange juice in one and poured a third into each of the other containers. I then poured a third of the Cran cocktail into each. Important step: Stir this mixture BEFORE adding the 7Up. I did NOT the first time I made this and the pop fizzed up and soaked me and the counter top.

Stir.

Then I added the 7Up. Mixed gently and poured it into a cup filled with with ice and a shot of the raspberry vodka.

MMM.

I thought a lovely holiday name would be great so I called it ‘Santa Baby’…the Marilyn Monroe version of course!

I should be getting another holiday drink recipe for you soon.

Enjoy!

love, peace and chicken grease,

A Cooped Up Chick

Super Duper, Easy-peasey, Skor Squares.

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: December 2010, Desserts

Ok. So 2 blog posts in 2 days. I am either over eager and too excited OR I want to help prepare you for the flurry of festivities and parties over the next week.

Or maybe its because I am making these squares today to bring to my folks house tomorrow night and they are SO easy and SO good that I just had to share the recipe.

Whichever the reason, you are going to thank me for these decadent yet simple squares.

I went to a Yankee Swap (my first!) a couple of weeks ago at my good friend Jen’s house. Like the typical Maritime party we hovered in the kitchen area around the food, laughing at gossiping. One of the guests, Michelle, brought out this tray of squares. They looked so pretty and tasted DIVINE! Everyone was clamoring for the recipe. Once Michelle gave us the ingredients and explained the method I was shocked at how easy it was to make. Soooo, a week later I googled the recipe online (because of the lovely Smirnoff Raspberry Vodka I was drinking at the Yankee Swap I forgot the instructions) and made them for my son.

The first evening the squares were made we tasted them and I thought to myself, “Ok these are good but they don’t quite taste the same. Maybe I had googled the wrong recipe?” Luckily the squares made it to day 2 and we tasted again. MMMMM!! Now we are on the right track. Apparently it takes a day or two for all the crackers to soak up the liquid and the flavors and firm up, so if possible, try not to eat them all on day one because by day 2 they are SO much better.

Skor Squares


Recipe:

Break up all the crackers in the bag they came in and place in large mixing bowl.

Mix with milk and 2/3 of the bag of Skor chips.

Place in lightly greased 8″ x 8″ pan (I used a liberal amount of Pam cooking spray) and bake at 350 for 15 min.

Let cool. Ice with icing. Sprinkle with the remainder of the Skor chips.

Awesome squares. Super DUPER easy. 20 minutes out of your day and you’ll have a tasty treat to bring to your holiday parties!!

Enjoy, Happy Holidays and don’t forget to brush your teeth!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

‘Tis the Season

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: December 2010, Desserts

‘Tis the season to bake and eat cookies….lotsa lotsa cookies. Every family has their favorites, their staple recipes, in their Christmas baking repertoire but isn’t it great to add a tried and true one to the bunch? I consider this my moms recipe even though it wasn’t passed down from generation to generation. In fact, I think it may have been ripped out of a “Tastes of Home” magazine in a Doctors office or written on a scrap of paper or transcribed via my Godmother over the phone. In any case this recipe fell into my mothers hands and she then passed it along to me and taught me how to make it. Now I shall pass it along to you.

These cookies are like a cross between a sugar and a shortbread.  They aren’t as dense as a shortbread nor as sugary as a sugar cookie. They are perfect and light and yummy!

Raspberry Ribbons


Recipe:

1 cup butter (NOT MARGARINE), softened

1/2 cup sugar

1 egg

1 tsp vanilla

2  1/4 cups all purpose flour

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 cup Raspberry Jam

Glaze:

1 cup icing sugar

2 Tbsps evaporated milk (I have used regular 2% milk)

1/2 tsp vanilla

Cream butter and sugar, beat in egg and vanilla. Combine flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl; gradually add to creamed mixture and blend well. Divide dough into 4 equal portions. Shape each into a 10 inch long tube (I do this by rolling it on the counter top with my hands, like you would if you were making a snake with play dough!). Place on a greased cookie sheet and pat until flat and about 2 1/2 inches wide. Make a finger width depression down the center of the log.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes. Fill depressions with jam and place back in oven to bake an additional 10-15 minutes until lightly browned.

Drizzle bars with glaze (I use a whisk and flick it back and forth over all the bars. I usually make a huge mess but have learned over the years to place wax or parchment paper under the cooling rack. Provided I remember this is a way to make cleanup MUCH easier!)

Cut into 3/4 inch slices.

Word of advice: double the batch. They freeze wonderfully and are SOOOO yummy they quickly disappear!

Hope you enjoy and best of luck!

love, peace and chicken grease,

-A Cooped Up Chick

(wow. my very first blog post. YAY ME!)

Hello world!

Author: Cooped Up Chick  //  Category: Uncategorized

Tantalizing, titillating, mouthwatering, scrumptious food blog coming soon!
Keep coming back!

Update: December 22nd

First post is up. Go check it out in “December 2010”