Monday, October 30, 2017

Chicken Orzo Soup...


  






I mentioned last week that I had made a very tasty soup and had used the pre chopped and frozen onions, celery, and carrots in it.  This is that recipe.  So comforting and warm- especially on a cool evening in fall or winter.  

This has quickly become a family favorite!!  Hope y'all enjoy it, too!!

Oh and this would be excellent with some homemade rolls or crackers!!  


Chicken Orzo Soup

2 tablespoons butter
1 onion, diced
2 stalks of celery, diced
2 carrots, diced or shredded
3 tablespoons butter
3 tablespoons flour
8 cups chicken stock
precooked and chopped chicken (I used chicken breasts)
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 tsp rosemary
1 tsp herbs de Provence
1 tsp garlic powder
1/4 tsp dried thyme
salt and pepper to taste
2 bay leaves
pinch of crushed red pepper flakes
1 cup (or more if you like) of orzo pasta

Melt 2 tablespoons butter in 6 qt stock pan.  Stir in onions, celery, and carrots.  Cook about 10 minutes over medium heat until veggies are soft.  Remove from pot and set aside.

In the same pot, stir in 3 tablespoons butter over medium low heat.  Stir in flour and whisk until all flour is mixed in and the color starts to turn light brown.  It starts to smell a smidge nutty at this point.  This is a good thing!!  Slooooowwwwly add chicken stock and whisk as you go.  This will help thicken the soup just a little bit.

Once it's all incorporated, return sautéed veggies to pot along with chicken and all the spices (NOT the orzo).  Let it come to a slight boil then reduce to simmer.  THEN add the orzo in and cook about 20 minutes until the orzo is soft and yummy.


I hope your family love this as much as mine!


Happy Homemaking!!!


I was featured at Back to My Southern Roots!!!!!
Foodie Friday Link Party!


Monday, October 23, 2017

Freezing Chopped Veggies...




This past week I had planned on making two soups that both needed onions, celery, and carrots.  I knew I had purchased celery and carrots the week before, so I did not pick any up at the grocery store on my normal grocery day.  Well, when I got home from the store and was putting all the groceries away, I noticed that the carrots and celery weren't looking so fresh and I knew they'd be ruined by the time I needed them.  I did NOT want to waste them AND I did not want to run out to the grocery store again.  So I decided to go ahead and pre chop the onions, celery, and carrots and put them in freezer bags all labeled with the recipe they were to be used for.  YAY!!  Usually chopping veggies is what takes the longest in any soup recipe (well, other than a long simmering time).  This was such a time saver and came in SUPER handy when the days came for me to make the soups for my family.  Hooray for saving both time AND money by chopping the veggies before they went bad.  

I shared before about pre chopping and freezing veggies, but this time I froze them and bagged them according to upcoming recipes instead of just freezing all the carrots together, all the celery together, etc.  Such an easy idea that saved me time the day of cooking.  

What soups did we have??? Oh y'all.  DELICIOUS soups!!  

First we had Disneyland Loaded Potato Soup recipe that I found here.  YUUUMMMMMM.  Well, except I left out the corn because I don't love corn.  

And we also had Chicken Orzo Soup.  Very very tasty!!  This is the second time we've had this.  I think this is going to be one of the family's favorites for a while.  I'll be sure and share that next week!!!  





You're a STAR

They kindly featured my post here as one of their November STARs.







And a huge THANK YOU to Miz Helen!!!!!












Monday, October 16, 2017

Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix...



I LOOOOOOOOVE a steaming mug of hot chocolate.  A big mug with lots of whipped cream or marshmallows.  Then add on a sprinkling of chocolate shavings on top.  OH YES!!!  Nothing says cozy quite as nice as snuggling up with a cup of hot chocolate.  Mmmm..


Cool mornings have started here in Georgia.  If weathermen are correct, we should be greeted each morning with temperatures in the 40s.  Great way to start off the morning?  Hot chocolate and buttered toast for breakfast.  

This mix is super easy to prepare.  I simply don't like the taste of the store-bought premade packets of hot cocoa mix.  So I just keep all the ingredients I need on hand to make this and mix it all up whenever we run out.  Decidedly simple.  Very tasty.  My girls even say they prefer this version of hot chocolate over any they've had from a restaurant.  WOW!!


Homemade Hot Chocolate Mix

2 cups powdered milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup powdered coffee creamer
1/2 cup cocoa (unsweetened)

Mix all ingredients together and store in a quart size mason jar.  

To make a cup of hot chocolate, pour hot water in a mug and THEN pour in the hot chocolate mix (1/3 to 1/2 half cup, based on how sweet and chocolatey you like your cocoa).  Let it start to dissolve on it's own and then gently stir it all together.  Great as is OR add lots of marshmallows or whipped cream.  Great, also, using a peppermint stick as a stirrer!!!  

Enjoy!!! 


Monday, October 09, 2017

Update... Homemade Chicken Stock...



Waaaaay back in July of 2009, I shared about how I make chicken stock.  I am very well aware of the fact that you can buy this at the store in cans or boxes.   I have definitely used the store bought stuff before.  Not bad, but nothing you'd "Mmmmmmm" over.  Know what I mean?  

I also know there is such a thing as bouillon cubes that come wrapped up in cute little tiny squares.  I always have those on hand.  You never know when you are suddenly out of chicken stock. Boy, those little squares have certainly come in handy over the years!!!




However, by far, the BEST tasting thing to use when it comes to chicken stock is.... drumroll.... HOMEMADE!!!!  

You knew I'd say that didn't you?  

Not only is it BY FAR the tastiest, it is CHEAP, too!!!!  I've even made this in my crock pot before, too!!!  Just put all the ingredients in the crock pot, turn it on low, and walk away for about 8-12 hours. SUPER SIMPLE!!!!  

I do prefer, though, to simmer it on the stove all day long.  I do it on a day when I know I don't have to go anywhere.  The smell in the whole house that day is just sooo yummy. Last week when I made our latest batch, the exterminator was here (LOOOOOVE THE BUG MAN COMING every 3 months!!! I DO NOT like bugs!!!  But that blog post can wait for another day...) even HE said, "Boy that sure smells good."  Thank you, Bug Man.  


I digress...


Here's how I roast the chicken...

Use bone IN and skin ON chicken breasts.  You can use any part of the chicken you like- just make sure you have the bones.  Some people will even buy "scratchers" (chicken feet) from the grocery store to add to their stock.  (Yes, I am serious.  Go ask your butcher where they are! Or my dad.  He knows them very well.  Pretty sure he'll read this post!!)  They contain a lot of super good for you stuff in the bones.  

So I roast my chicken breasts in the oven at 400° for about 45 minutes until they are golden brown on top.  I rubbed olive oil on top and sprinkled with salt and tons of fresh black pepper first.  




After I removed it from the oven, I let it cool.  When I could touch it, I removed the meat from the bones and chopped the meat up.  I usually freeze it and save for casseroles or soups or enchiladas or chicken salad.... well, you get the idea.  




 

The bones and skin (and "scratchers" if you're using them) now go into a big stock pot.  I use my 9 quart pot.  Roughly chop 2 onions, 4 ribs celery and 3 carrots and place in stock pot along with 2 bulbs of garlic (cut in half) and 2-4 bay leaves, 2 tsp dried thyme,  a sprig or two of fresh rosemary and a big handful of peppercorns (yes, put them in whole). And, this may sound like a strange ingredient, but also add 2-3 T of apple cider vinegar. Cover everything with water to the very rim of the pot. Cover with lid. I prefer to do this the night before.  The apple cider vinegar helps to draw out the gelatin from the bones (super good stuff for you!!!).

Doesn't it look so pretty in the pot???






When you're all done you can either use it right away or store it in the refrigerator 3-4 days or in the freezer up to 6 months.  I have used mason jars to freeze the stock in as well as plastic quart size freezer bags. 

(our chicken stock in freezer bags)



So who else makes their own stock?  If you do, please share anything you do differently.  I LOVE learning better ways.  

Happy Homemaking!!!

Monday, October 02, 2017

Dish drainers- do you or do you not?



In March of 2012, I asked if any of y'all used a dish drainer.  To be very honest, I was shocked that most of you did not use one!  I thought EVERYONE used one!!  

Since that day, I've been thinking about NOT having one.  Yes, I realize that was FIVE years ago, but still, the idea has been in the back of my mind this whole time.  I'm just sooooo over how much counter space the dish drainer takes up. 

I challenged myself to go the whole month of June of this year without using the dish drainer.  I did it and LOVED it!!  I finally threw the dish drainer away two weeks ago (yes, in September!!!). HAHA!  I guess I was scared I'd suddenly "need" it again???  

Here's how it looked with the dish drainer on the counter top...






Here's what I've been doing- washing dishes then laying them on top of a dish towel.  I do put almost everything in the dishwasher, but for the things that I hand wash, I've been washing them and laying them on the towel.  Great thing about this is that I DO NOT like the dishes laying on the counter so I am forced (by myself.. no one MAKES me do this) to immediately deal with the dishes. I dry them off and put them up right away.  Then I'll just hang the towel to dry.  









Aaaaahhhhh the counter looks SO much less cluttered without the dish drainer.  YAY!!!!  





Y'all please share links to your blogs if you've shared about your dish drainer or lack of a dish drainer before.  

Happy home keeping!!!


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