day 2: getting every last drop out of it all (chicken soup) with a hint of bittersweet

Being 30 comes at a cost … it’s expensive. Literally expensive. The work days whiz by, in general days are shorter, life is longer (as are to-do lists) and responsibilities just keep on coming. Sometimes, there’s nothing better than a little something warm and familiar to remind you of where you’ve been, who you are and frankly to keep you sane. Today, we’re coming to the realization that life is full of wonderful ingredients that we leave untouched on the table for others to claim or simply discard whimsically on a tailspin’s notice. That trend is ending today!

Yesterday, we made homemade chicken stock and now you’re wondering what in the world to do with the product of your efforts. No, this ain’t your granny’s lemonade analogy – but it is certainly lemon chicken soup choked full of deliciousness. Keep reading and make yourself a bowl … after all, if you don’t make one for yourself, who will?

Lemony chicken soup ... deliciousness.

Lemony chicken soup … deliciousness.

What you’ll need:

  • Homemade chicken stock (yep, you made it yesterday). You can use store bought (no judgement, here).
  • Chicken (from the batch of stock you made). Shredded.
  • 4 carrots. Peeled, quartered and cut into half inch pieces.
  • 4 stalks of celery. Cut diagonally into half inch pieces.
  • 4 lemons. 2 juiced right in the pot and the other 2 cut into rings.
  • 1 can of chickpeas. Drained.
  • 1 can of black olives. Whole (so those who don’t appreciate olives can easily remove them).
  • a healthy handful of Italian parsley. Chopped.
  • 1 cup of pasta (shape of your choice or whatever is in your pantry).

What you’ll do:

  1. Bring stock (from yesterday to boil) and add pasta. Cook about 5 minutes.
  2. Add lemon juice, celery and carrots. Cook for about 5 more minutes. Until carrots and celery are relatively tender.
  3. Add chickpeas, olives and shredded chicken. Reduce heat to medium-low.
  4. Before serving add sliced lemons and parsley.
  5. Enjoy!

* This soup will freeze quite well. FYI.

day 1: ready, set, (chicken) stock!

Almost a year ago I decided to get serious, start a blog and cook to my heart & belly’s content … I certainly started the blog and I’ve certainly whipped up some craziness in the kitchen, but alas those recipes just haven’t made it to you quite yet. Thus, the intervention! Down with untold recipes and plates kept secret! Ha!

No seriously, Today marks the first of a self-imposed 31 day challenge. Odd right? I’m turning 31 (yikes), there are 31 days in December and I can’t find a better excuse or cosmic sign to share 31 recipes. So buckle up!

Day 1 ensues … homemade chicken stock.

What you’ll need:

  • 1 whole chicken (be sure to look in the cavity and remove the giblet, neck, etc)
  • 1 large yellow onion quartered (keep the skin on)
  • 6 medium carrots cut in half (peel these)
  • 1 head of garlic (cut through the middle)
  • 1 bunch of Italian parsley (washed a cut in half)
  • a handful of thyme (washed)
  • 3 tsp whole peppercorns (I like the tri-color)
  • 3 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 heart of celery (washed and cut in half, leaves and all)

What you’ll do:

  1. Combine all ingredients and cover completely with cold water.
  2. Bring to a rolling boil and reduce heat to medium low.
  3. Walk away for 4 hours – have a cocktail, watch a movie and take a well deserved nap.
  4. You’ll notice a layer of skim (it’s the rendered fat from the chicken cooking). Here’s a trick – run a paper towel gently across the top. or a spoon and it comes right off! Discard the skim of course.
  5. Remove the chicken and save it for later use.
  6. Strain the remaining liquid and discard the seasonings.

This same method can be used for virtually any type of stock you like and don’t be afraid to get adventurous with the herbs or seasonings. You really can’t go wrong!

bacon + corn chowder

What you’ll need:

  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1 lb. quality bacon
  • 2 garlic minced garlic cloves
  • 1 medium onion diced
  • 6 sprigs fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 6 cups chicken stock
  • 2 cups heavy cream
  • 1 sweet potato peeled and diced
  • 1 russet potato peeled and diced
  • kernels from 6 ears of corn
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • chopped parsley to garnish (optional)
  • truffle infused olive oil for garnish (optional)

What you’ll do:

  1. Dice bacon and cook thoroughly on medium high in a stock pot. Remove bacon and set aside.
  2. Reduce heat to medium and add butter.
  3. Add onion, garlic and thyme and cook until herbs are fragrant and onion is slightly translucent. Approximately 8 minutes.
  4. Dust mixture with flour and gently fold to incorporate.
  5. Add stock and bring to rapid boil.
  6. Add cream and potatoes. Allow to continue cooking for about 8 minutes.
  7. Add corn kernels and allow to cook for another 12 minutes (potatoes should be cooked through).
  8. Portion into bowls and top with reserved bacon, parsley and a drizzle of truffle oil.
  9. Enjoy!

burgundy beef stew = awesomeness!

Burgundy Beef Stew

Burgundy Beef Stew

I’m not sure about the rest of you out there, but when cold & rain combine I believe it’s a clear sign to do absolutely nothing! And that nothing, you’re busy doing on said rainy, cold day should be served with a side of beef stew.

I don’t remember growing up with beef stew as a creature comfort (shame on you, Myie)! So the recipe I’m sharing with you today is a combination of Tyler Florence’s Ultimate Beef Stew, Matoo’s delicacy arsenal and a bit of my own intuition.

What you’ll need …

1 1/2 lbs. chuck roast, cut into 2 inch cubes
1 bottle of enjoyable red wine (I used Arrington Vineyards, Red Fox Red)
2 large potatoes, peeled & diced
4 large carrots, peeled & diced
3 ribs celery, washed and diced
4 sprigs fresh rosemary
6 smashed cloves of garlic
2 bay leaves
1/4 tsp. ground cloves
1/2 tsp. ground, smoked paprika
2 1/2 cups stock (I used chicken, ironically – but, anything is fine)
2 cups flour
2 tbsp. quality olive oil

Season beef generously with salt, pepper and paprika. Pour flour and seasoned beef into large bag, then shake to coat. In a large dutch oven, heat oil to medium high. Add beef (shaking off excess flour) and brown on all sides. Remove and set aside. Pour bottle of red wine in, scrape bits from bottom of pan. Once heated through, add browned meat, rosemary, garlic, bay leaves, stock and cloves. Bring to a rolling boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours. Add potatoes, celery and carrots. Continue to simmer until potatoes are tender. Serve with bread, biscuits and/or small salad. Enjoy!