Easy Chicken Noodle Soup

There are so many chicken noodle soup recipes out there but I’ve pretty much perfected the art of making one that’s quick yet still “homemade” tasting. I use cheesecloth to strain the soup as it catches all the little bits that you don’t really want in your broth. You can find it in the baking section of your grocery store.

chick-noodle-soup-pic

1 rotisserie chicken (from grocery store)

1 onion, peeled and halved

4 stalks celery, including leaves

3 carrots, cut in half

8 cups chicken broth

2 cups frozen peas and carrots

1-2 cups frozen pearl onions

1 package frozen Grandma’s Homestyle Noodles, thaw as directed

salt and pepper to taste

Put the chicken broth in a large stock pot and add the whole chicken, onion, celery, and carrots.  Add salt and pepper. Bring to boil, then lower heat to a simmer.  Simmer for at least an hour, or up to two hours.  Using a large piece of cheesecloth laid over a colander, strain the soup into another large stock pot. Discard vegetables.  Let the chicken cool while you add the peas and carrots, pearl onions and thawed noodles to the pot.  Cook until noodles are done.  Pick the chicken off the bone and add the meat to the soup.  Season with more salt and pepper if necessary.

 

 

 

Asparagus Puff Pastry Tart

aspargus puff pastry tart.jpg

1 frozen puff pastry, thawed

5 oz fontina cheese, shredded

1 to 1 1/2 pounds asparagus

olive oil to drizzle

salt and pepper

 

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  On a floured surface, roll the puff pastry into a 16×10 inch rectangle.  Trim uneven edges and place onto a baking sheet (I used parchment paper).  Take a knife and lightly score the dough 1 inch from the edges to mark a rectangle, then pierce the dough with a fork inside the markings at 1/2 intervals.  Bake until golden, about 15 minutes.  Do not worry if it is “puffed” up.

Remove the pastry from the oven and sprinkle with cheese. Trim the bottoms of the asparagus to fit crosswise inside the tart shell and lay them in a single layer over the cheese, alternating ends and tips.  Drizzle with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Bake until asparagus is tender, about 20 minutes.  This tart would work well with a variety of other vegetables, including mushrooms or bell peppers.  Experiment with your favorite!

Chicken Cacciatore

chicken-cacciatore6 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 cup flour, seasoned with 1 tsp salt and 1/2 tsp pepper, for dredging

4 tbls extra virgin olive oil

2 brown onions, thinly sliced

2 bell peppers, thinly sliced

4 tbls butter

12 oz mushrooms, sliced

3/4 cup red wine

1/2 cup  fresh basil, chopped

1/4 cup chopped fresh flat leaf parsley, chopped

2 tsps fresh thyme, chopped

28 oz can crushed tomatoes

Dredge the chicken pieces in the flour.  Heat the olive oil in a deep dutch oven or heavy stock pot over med-high heat and brown the chicken, a few pieces at a time.  Transfer the browned pieces to a plate while you finish the others.  Do not cook the chicken through.

Once the chicken is all browned and on a plate to hold, add the butter to the pot, then add the  onions and peppers and cook over med-high until the onions are translucent (about 10 minutes).  Add the wine and deglaze the pan, scraping up any bits from the bottom.  Cook a few minutes to reduce the wine.  Stir in the tomatoes and add half a can of water. Stir the herbs and  in.  Return the chicken to the pot.  Cover and simmer for 40 minutes.  Add the mushrooms and simmer uncovered until they are tender and chicken is cooked all the way through, about 15 minutes more.  Season with salt and pepper if needed.

Pasta Fagioli with Red beans

I’m a soup gal.  I love soups of all kinds, but this one is great because not only does it have a great flavor but it’s hearty enough that if you add a hunk of bread and a glass of wine you can call it Dinner.  I like that in a soup.

pasta-fagioli-with-red-beans

4 sprigs fresh thyme

1 sprig fresh rosemary

2 tbls butter

1 cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic, minced

4 ounces pancetta, chopped

6 cups chicken broth

2 (14 oz) cans red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

1 cup small macaroni, like elbow or orcchiette

salt and pepper to taste

parmesean cheese and olive oil to top dish

Cheesecloth or kitchen twine

Wrap the thyme and rosemary sprigs in a piece of cheesecloth and tie in a knot, or tie with kitchen twine.  Heat the butter in a large, heavy stockpot over a medium flame.  Add the onion, pancetta, and garlic and saute until the onion is tender (about 5 minutes).  Add the broth, beans and herbs.  Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then decrease heat to medium and simmer for approximately 20 minutes.  At this point, remove the herb packet and discard it.  Measure out 1 cup of the mixture and either puree it in a blender or, if you have an immersion blender, put one cup in a larger (4 cup) glass measuring cup and puree it using the immersion blender.  Return the puree to the rest of the soup, cover and return to a boil over high heat.  Add the macaroni, cover again and boil approximately 8 minutes, so that the pasta is done “al dente.”  Season with salt and pepper.  Serve the soup sprinkled with parmesean cheese and drizzled with olive oil.

Roasted Peppers

This just might be the simplest thing you’ll ever see on a food blog.  But they are so flavorful and you can use them in such a variety of ways that once you make them you may just always want to have them in your fridge. I add them to sandwiches, quesadillas and, just like my grandmother did, love to eat them piled on a fresh-cut slice of French bread with a piece of Provolone cheese. Add a glass of wine and call it “dinner.”

peppers-on-bread

Preheat oven to 250 degrees

6-8 Bell peppers, a variety of red, yellow and green works well

Extra virgin olive oil

Core and seed the peppers.  Slice the peppers fairly thin and arrange them on a baking sheet in a single layer.  Drizzle with olive oil and bake for a total of approximately 2 to 2 1/2 hours, stirring every 30 minutes or so.  Peppers will be slightly shriveled and darkened when done.  Salt and pepper to taste.  If you wash the peppers just before slicing, be sure to DRY them completely before putting them on the baking sheet or they will end up “steaming” in the oven.

 

Swedish Meatballs

Swedish Meatballs might just be the ultimate comfort food.  Growing up with an Italian grandparent I was used to meatballs as a staple, but I always loved when they were served with this creamy gravy as an alternative. Serve them over rice or egg noodles.

swedish-meatballs

Meatballs:

2 slices white bread, crusts removed and torn into tiny pieces

1/4 cup milk

1 pound ground beef

1 pound ground pork

1 small onion, grated

1 egg, beaten

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder

1/2 tsp dried parsley

1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
Sauce:

6 Tbls butter, divided

2 cups beef broth

2 Tbls flour

1 Tbls Worcestershire sauce

1/2 cup heavy cream

salt and pepper to taste

In a small bowl soak the bread in the milk until soft.  In a larger bowl, combine all the meatball ingredients, then add the soaked bread.  Mix well with your hands.  Shape into approximately 20-24 meatballs.

In a large skillet, melt 2 Tbls butter.  Add meatballs and turn continuously until brown on all sides and cooked through (about 10 minutes).  Remove to plate and cover with foil to keep warm.

Add 4 Tbls butter to the skillet and when melted whisk flour in, stirring until it turns brown.  Slowly stir in the beef broth and Worcestershire sauce and simmer a few minutes to thicken.  Stir in cream and season with salt and pepper to taste.  Add Meatballs back to the skillet and simmer another 3-5 minutes to make sure they are heated through.

Classic Coq au Vin

The sauce for this chicken dish is so good that my one daughter found the leftovers in the fridge one day and, not seeing the chicken at the bottom, scooped up the sauce and heated it up as a soup!  And I don’t blame her.  It’s rich and creamy.  And I use boneless chicken thighs, so they turn out so tender you don’t need a knife to eat your meal.  All-in-all, this is a great dish.

coq-au-vin

4 oz. bacon, cut into 1/2 inch pieces

1 cup flour mixed with 1 Tbls Cocoa powder

10 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

6 pearl onions, peeled and halved

2 carrots, diced

1/2 pound crimini (brown) mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

2 tsp chopped garlic

5 sprigs fresh thyme, minced

2 oz red wine

6 cups chicken  broth

4 Tbls butter

5 Tbls chopped parsley

5 Tbls chopped Marjoram

 

In a large pot with a lid, render the bacon until crispy, about 6-8 minutes, then remove from pot to drain on paper towels and set aside.  Season the flour with salt and pepper.  Dredge the chicken pieces in the seasoned flour, coating each side completely.  Reserve remaining flour.  Cook chicken, a few pieces at a time so as not to crowd the pot, only a few minutes on each side on med high heat.  You only want to brown the chicken at this point.  Hold browned pieces on a plate and set aside. Add butter to melt, the add onions  and carrots to the pot and saute for 2-3 minutes.  Add mushrooms and garlic.  Season with salt and pepper and saute for 2-3 minutes more.  Add the thyme and red wine, and cook for a minute to allow alcohol to cook out of wine.  Sprinkle about a half cup of the reserved flour into the mix and stir well.  Slowly add the chicken stock and simmer a few minutes to allow it to thicken a bit.  Add the chicken and bacon, and cover.  Simmer over med-low for 30 minutes. Stir parsley and marjoram in at the end.  Serve over rice.

Chicken Marsala

chicken-marsala

 

4 skinless, boneless chicken breast

All purpose flour, seasoned with salt and pepper, for dredging

1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil

8 oz white mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1/2 cup Marsala wine

1/2 cup chicken stock

2 tbls butter

1/4 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

 

Place the chicken breasts between two pieces of plastic wrap and, using a meat mallet, pound them until they are about 1/4 inch thick.  Place them in the seasoned flour, shaking off the excess.

Heat the oil over med-high in a large skillet.  Fry the chicken pieces 5 minutes on each side, browning them before removing to a plate.  Lower heat a bit and add the mushrooms, stirring until softened and  browned.  Season with salt and pepper.  Add the Marsala wine and cook a minute to remove the alcohol.  Be sure to have scraped the bottom of the pan to get the bits of chicken, etc up.  Add the chicken stock and simmer for about 5 minutes to reduce the sauce slightly.  Stir the butter into the sauce and add the chicken.  Cook for another 5-7 mins to heat through.  Add salt and pepper to taste.  Stir parsley in before serving.  Serve with rice, noodles or mashed potatoes.

Chicken Spaghetti Casserole

turkey-tetrazzini1

1 pound linguini, broken in half

4 Tbls butter

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 pound button mushrooms, stemmed and sliced

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup flour (I use Wondra for this)

4 cups chicken broth

1 8oz block cream cheese, softened

3 cups cooked chicken (rotisserie from grocery store works well)

1 cup frozen peas

1 cup bread crumbs

Cook pasta until not quite done (a few minutes less than package directions call for). Drain and set aside.

In a large pot, melt butter over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and saute for a few minutes, then add mushrooms and salt and saute a few minutes more.  Pour the wine in and cook several minutes,  until the liquid reduces by half.

Sprinkle the flour in and stir to incorporate.  Cook a few minutes more, then slowly add the chicken broth, being careful to stir well.  Cook a few minutes more until the mixture thickens.

Reduce heat to medium-low and add cream cheese in small blocks, stirring well.  Don’t be alarmed if the cream cheese doesn’t completely melt at this point, it will eventually.  Add the chicken and the peas and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper.

Add the  cooked spaghetti and stir to combine.  Pour into a greased (or sprayed) large baking dish.  Mix breadcrumbs with 2 tablespoons melted butter and spread over casserole.  Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes, until casserole bubbles.

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

Pasta Salad

 

Pasta Salad

1 pound box spiral pasta, cooked al dente (one minute less than the shortest time listed on box)

small bunch broccoli crowns, cut up and put in with pasta for the last one minute of cooking time

1 red bell pepper, diced

1 green bell pepper, diced

1 small can sliced black olives, drained

1/2 cup or more slivered almonds

1/2 pound cheddar cheese, cubed

1 bottle favorite Ceasar or Italian dressing (I use Girard’s Ceasar)

Once the pasta/broccoli, drain and allow to cool a few minutes.  Add the red and green bell pepper and black olives and a bit of the bottled dressing, and allow to cool further before adding the cheese and almonds and rest of the bottle of dressing (the pasta will absorb a lot of the dressing, so yes, use it all).   Refrigerate before serving.

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