Friday, January 25, 2013

Homemade Chicken Soup with Tortellini and Spinach

The weather here has been cold (at least for us) and Michael has come down with some kind of flu thing.  You know what I am talking about, scratchy throat, feverish and run down.  Seems like the perfect time for some chicken soup and being me I couldn't just stop at plain soup.  This is very comforting and is much more filling thanks to addition of tortellini and fresh spinach.  If you have left over chicken in the fridge that can be added also (we had a left over roasted thigh which went in the mix).

Homemade Chicken Soup with Tortellini and Spinach

1 pound chicken breast (with skin and bones attached)
2 carrots peeled and sliced into large slices
2 celery stalks with greens attached sliced
1 medium onion sliced
8 cups water
2 cups chicken stock (see note below)
1 sprig thyme
1 cup dry cheese tortellini
2 cups fresh spinach
1 Tbls butter
3 large mushrooms sliced

Place the chicken, carrots, celery, water, chicken stock, salt and pepper into a large stock pot.  Bring to a boil and let simmer 2 hours uncovered.  Remove chicken and place to the side, allow to cool.  Add the thyme and allow to cook down to about 1/2 (or so).

Remove chicken from bones and chop roughly then add it back to the broth.  Bring back to a boil and add the tortellini allowing to cook about 12 minutes.  While this is happening place your butter into a small saute pan and melt.  Add the mushrooms to the butter and brown.  Add the mushrooms to your soup along with the spinach.

Note:  I keep chicken broth in zip lock bags in the freezer.  I make it anytime we have a whole chicken using the carcass, it is inexpensive to make, tastes so much better then what you buy at the store and you can control the amount of salt in it.

Chicken Broth

1 chicken carcass
1 carrot roughly chopped (no need to peel)
1 stalk of celery roughly chopped (including the greens on the top)
1 onion roughly chopped
8-10 cup of water
Freshly ground pepper

Place it all in a large stock pot, bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours.  Place a strainer in a large bowl and carefully pour the stock in to remove the vegetables and bones.  Cool and separate into zip lock bags (I usually put 2 cups into each bag) place in the freezer and you are done!


Friday, January 18, 2013

Seafood Stew

When  I first started this cooking adventure I was a cooking chicken.  By that I mean that unless it was something I had made before or if trying a new recipe it had more than a few items and a short set of directions it was not going to be tried here.  Then I moved onto a few cooking websites and if it didn't have a lot of positive reviews it wouldn't be cooked here.  Well over the past year and a half I have certainly become more adventurous and much braver. 

What brings all this to mind is yesterday's dinner.  Michael was talking about making some type of a fish soup, we talked about what we would like in it (red sauce or white sauce, what vegetables, what kinds of fish).  Once we had decided on the preliminaries off to the Internet we both went each with an idea of what we were looking for.  We came up with a combination of tastes from two different recipes and two different chefs.  Earlier in my cooking journey I would have had to stay exactly with the recipe and heavens forbid there was not every item called for in the pantry, that recipe would have been out the window!  So here is (to the best of my recollection) a combination of Emeril and Ina's seafood stew!

Seafood Stew

1 Tbls olive oil
1 Tbls butter
1 carrot diced
1 stalk celery diced
1 medium onion diced
2 cloves of garlic minced
1/2 cup diced green pepper
6 small red potatoes cut in small pieces
Cayenne pepper
2 cups seafood stock
1 can diced tomatoes
2 bay leaves
A couple threads of saffron
1 cup white wine
1/2 lb firm white fish (we used whiting) cut into chunks
1/2 lb mussels
One dozen small clams
1/2 lb raw shrimp (shelled and de-veined)

In a large stockpot heat oil and melt butter, add the carrot, celery, onion and potatoes.  Add some salt, cayenne pepper and bay leaf, stir and let cook over medium heat for 6 minutes (or until onions and peppers are soft).  Add your seafood stock, wine, tomatoes and saffron.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about a half an hour (potatoes should be soft).

Add the white fish and clams, simmer until the clams open.  Add the mussels and shrimp, once again let simmer until mussels open and shrimp turn pink.

Serve with crusty bread!

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Ina Gartner's Parmesan and Thyme Crackers

Well, that was a nice little blogging vacation!  Hadn't really planned it but life got a tad over busy (including the eldest daughter returning from Guatemala and moving into our 700 sq foot apartment with Michael, Bear and myself).  All I can say is thank goodness for the backyard which makes this place seem larger.

I have been invited to join a group called the Hens and tomorrow afternoon is the first get together.  Apparently this group (which I knew nothing about) is a group of ladies who are devoted to cooking.  Tomorrows get together is going to be cheese, appetizers, fondue and wine.  Everyone brings something  or makes something...usually nothing store bought is allowed (except for things like the wine and cheese).  I know nothing about cheeses (so this should be a great learning experience) and to make up for my lack of knowledge we are going to make and bring crackers.  Little did I know there were tons of recipes on the web for crackers!  I am going to make two different types (possibly a third one if there is enough time) and this morning the first one was baked!  These taste like savory shortbread and are kind of tender...

Parmesan and Thyme Crackers on the Food Network


  • 1/4 pound (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 ounces grated Parmesan
  • 1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Place the butter in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix until creamy. Add the Parmesan, flour, salt, thyme and pepper and combine.
Dump the dough on a lightly floured board and roll into a 13-inch long log. Wrap the log in plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 30 minutes to harden.
Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut the log crosswise into 1/4 to 1/2-inch thick slices. Place the slices on a sheet pan and bake for 22 minutes.