Another Snow Storm Expected In Michigan….Soups On!

The holidays are over I’m done with snow and cold weather, completely over it.  I’m ready for sunshine and warm weather. Unfortunately, living in Michigan means that I have roughly 75 days until the official first day of spring and 168 days until the first day of summer.  Our current forecast is calling for single digit temperatures and snow anticipated to start later tonight continuing into late Sunday night, early Monday morning leaving.  We’ve been told to expect an additional 6-10” of snow.  That’s 6-10” of snow on top of what we already have.  I’ll just have to suck it up and find ways to take my mind off the inevitable, the cold and snow are here for a while. 

In anticipation of the snow and cold I decided to make this a “foodie” weekend and try a couple of new recipes.  The first was “Hearty Chicken Noodle Soup” which I found through “The Country Cook” blog.  I have to say the house has smelled wonderful all afternoon as the soup simmered on the stove.  Of course I had to have a sample to make sure it was seasoned enough and Walt has been picking up the lid and peeking in commenting on how great it looks and smells.  I must say that I think this recipe may just replace my Dzia Dzia’s chicken soup!!

Of course I had to make a few changes, it wouldn’t be me cooking if I didn’t right?  The original recipe calls for 32 oz. of chicken stock or broth.  *I measured out 8 cups of water and then added three of the tubs of Knorr’s Homestyle Chicken Stock to the pot.  I brought that to a boil and then added the chicken and spices.

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 HEARTY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP 

What You’ll Need:

2 (32 oz.) cartons chicken stock  (*NOTE:  I used 8 cups of water and added three tubs of Knorr’s Homestyle Chicken Stock)

1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning

1/2 tsp. garlic powder

1/2 tsp. onion powder

1 lb. boneless chicken (breasts, thighs or tenderloins)

1 cup diced carrots

1/2 cup diced celery

1 can condensed cream of chicken soup (undiluted)

3 cups water

3 cups egg noodles, uncooked (I used Mrs. Millers Old fashioned Medium Homemade Egg Noodles)

salt & pepper, to taste

Directions:

The rest of the recipe go to:  

http://www.thecountrycook.net/2013/11/one-pot-chicken-noodle-soup.html

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Another Mid-winter Monday

It’s Monday morning here in Michigan certainly not a warm one at 24 degrees but one that both makes you wish you could stay inside and not mind so much that it’s a work day. Joshua and Kaylee are on the last day of their mid-winter break while today is day one of Eric’s mid-winter break. We’re ticking down one more day till our next family birthday which will be Joshua’s in March followed by Dzia Dzia’s a few days later.

We’re counting down the days until spring which won’t bring extremely warm weather but it will bring life to my Lenten Roses that dot the ground under the pines around our patio. I’ve noticed that the days are getting longer; we really don’t need lights on until sometime around 6:00 p.m. instead of 5:00 p.m. These are a few of the little things that keep me from falling too deeply into those dreaded winter blues.

People have asked about my interview last week, so….an update on my interview last Wednesday. Although it went really, really well I know that I will not get a call for a second interview and this is why. The VP of Human Resources and I spent spent over an hour together and there was an instant rapport. She told me about the growth of the company and the plans for future growth, areas she hoped the HR Dept. could improve, the dynamic of the HR team. We talked about my background and what I was looking for. Before we wrapped it she very casually asked; “Have you ever thought about consulting?” “You have a great background; you’d make an excellent consultant.” BAMB!! This is the point I realize that she has already made up her mind that I am too over qualified for the role of Admin. Asst.  Oh well, I have an interview this afternoon with another company for a different type of position, we’ll see where this one leads.

Today I’m going to try and share with you my recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup.  I attempted to post it on Friday but WP hiccupped and coughed, sputtered and then spit out 99% of my post into cyber space somewhere leaving me only with the first two paragraphs.  Having learned from that experience I am now writing a word document that I’ll copy and paste when I am done.

After watching my busia and dzia dzia make chicken noodle soup (in the big silver pot) while I was growing up I quickly learned the mistake I made when I tried to make my own as an adult.  After my first attempt to make chicken soup as a newlywed, I was chatting with dzia dzia when I discovered that skinless chicken breasts weren’t the best pieces to use for a favorable chicken soup; you need pieces that have some fat.  As dzia dzia put it “You need the grease, the grease is what gives the soup its flavor, use the pieces with a little more fat, skin-on.”  Dzia dzia was right once I started using thighs in my soup it began to taste more like dzia dzia’s chicken soup.

My recipe has had a few transformations over the years, instead of using just water and chicken bouillon I now start my soup with a large can of chicken broth.  Instead of just skimming the “smetchaj” (so not spelled right, but it’s what we called the foam and stuff that boiled to the top of the soup), I not only skim the “smetchaj” from the top of soup as it simmers for the first hour I also stain the broth before for I return the broth to the pot and add my veggies for another hour of simmering.

Today’s recipe is my version of Chicken Noodle Soup.  There is nothing like a bowl of hot soup and a slice of fresh bread on a cold winter’s night.

CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP

Chicken Noodle Soup

What You’ll Need: 

4-6 Chicken Thighs

6 Cups of Chicken Broth (I use Swanson’s Low Sodium)

1/8 tsp. Poultry Seasoning

1-2 Cloves garlic – minced

1 large sliced onion

1 Cup carrots (sliced or chopped – more or less to taste)

½ Cup Celery (sliced or chopped –  more or less to taste)

Parsley

Directions:

  • Place chicken broth in a large pot
  • Add Chicken pieces (See “Note” below)
  • Add onion and poultry seasoning
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 1 hour skimming the foam off the top as it simmers
  • After an hour (or when chicken pieces are cooked through) remove chicken to a dish
  • Strain broth into another pot
  • Remove chicken from bone and return chicken pieces to the broth (you can let the chicken cool so you can handle it)
  • Add cut up veggies to the pot
  • Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer an additional hour
  • Serve with noodles of your choice

NOTE:  I don’t care what anyone says about how chicken is processed these days.  Bone-in, skin on chicken is still “dirty.”  Anytime I use bone-in, skin on chicken I always soak the chicken for no less than 4 hours and usually overnight in a cold water mixture to draw out the dirt and blood.  I cover the chicken pieces with cold water the add 5 garlic cloves chopped, a large onion sliced and about a ¼ cup of salt (I just pour but it’s a lot).  I place it in the refrigerator and cannot believe how dirty the water is when I remove the pieces and rinse them off.

Catching Up to Monday

WoW!!  I feel like I have been away from my blog forever, the last time I wrote was last Thursday and for one reason or another something else came up or needed attention and by the time I knew it and 255 e-mails later, I discovered that I am way behind in reading my favorite blogs (and missed out on some good stuff!), finding new blogs to follow and of course writing my for my own blog.

I am having one of those days today, not feeling 100%, headache in my nose (almost sure that it’s yet another sinus infection starting), but it was so bright and sunny earlier today that I just had to go out, I just couldn’t waste the sunshine!!  Wouldn’t you know it though, today would be the day that the “Wrongerologists” get it right.  On the noon news broadcast the local weatherman said that the sun would not last and would give way to overcast skies and increasing winds.  Sure enough, about 2 hours into enjoying my bright sunny afternoon….the clouds moved in and the winds picked up.  Doesn’t really matter though, when I noticed the change the most I was already in the drive through at the bank which was my last stop for the day.

I spent the rest of my afternoon catching up the 255 e-mail notifications, discovering some really great new recipes I want to try like chocolate cupcakes with white chocolate frosting and then very sad to hear that I somehow missed Margarita day!  That is tragic!!  Love strawberry Margarita’s!!  At this age I don’t recover so well from a night of Margarita’s but I love them just the same.  How is it that with age the ability to handle a night out on the town with strawberry Margarita’s doesn’t get easier??  Somehow this does not seem fair to me. I am not joking when I say that now, just one large Margarita can make me woozy, so sad.

Walt and I have a little restaurant close to home that we like to go to.  My mom was the first one to discover it, many, many, many years ago.  I started going there when I moved here in 2001.  It’s Michelle’s Restaurant and Sweetheart Bakery, it’s a restaurant and bakery, candy shop combined.  You walk in the front door and the smell of fresh bread, chocolate and sweets envelope you and pull you deeper inside.  You are warmed by all the detailed cherry wood that frames the walls, doors and windows.

Walking in the restaurant you would think that it costs a small fortune to eat there but it doesn’t.  They have a very limited menu, from prime rib to salad, the Michigan Cherry salad is the best.  Tuesday is Polish Day, the specials are all Polish foods and every dinner gets a paczki for dessert.   Our only complaint is the service.  The wait staff is very, very slow, which is why we don’t go as often as I like, it’s the one thing that drives Walt crazy and the reason he doesn’t like going there.

They have great breads and rolls baked fresh in the bakery.  What’s great about the bakery and restaurant being one is that after dinner you can go over to the bakery counter and take home some fresh dinner rolls or my favorite, the Cherry nut Coffee bread………love it.

One of my favorite things to order when I go to Michelle’s is the Chicken Pepperpot Soup.  Yes I know, traditional Pepperpot soup is made with tripe, but Michelle’s makes this thick, creamy, spicy soup filled with chicken and veggies.  It has just a little kick to it and it’s fantastic.  It is not always on the menu, it doesn’t have a specific day assigned to its appearance.  If’ I’m lucky when I go in they have it and I can enjoy a big bowl along with a slice of my favorite Cherry Nut Coffee Bread.

I have searched the internet and cookbooks looking for a recipe that sounds even remotely close to what Michelle’s makes and I have failed.  Last week I decided it was time to conjure up something that I was hoping would come close and although it’s not exactly Michelle’s, it’s close.  I combined a few of my favorite veggies, chicken breast from a rotisserie chicken and made my soup base from the spicy corn chowder.  I crossed my fingers, closed my eyes and I have to say, I came up with a decent knockoff!

I served this with corn bread muffins (recipe previously posted here) and it was delicious!!

 

NANCY’S CHICKEN PEPPERPOT SOUP

 

Nancy's Chicken Pepperpot Soup

Ingredients

1                  Rotisserie Chicken – shredded  (I used the breast meat only)

2 Tbsp       Butter

1 Cup          Frozen Corn (thawed)

1 Cup          Frozen Green Beans (thawed)

3 Cup         Potatoes Diced

1 Cup          Chopped Onion

1 Cup          Carrots – peeled and sliced

1 Can          14.5 oz Cream Corn

2 Cans        14. 5 oz Chicken Broth

1 Can          4 oz. Chiles – Do not drain

1  Pkt.         2.5 oz McCormick Country Style Gravy Mix

2 Cups       Heavy Cream

8 oz             Kraft Pepper Jack Cheese Cubed

Directions

  • Saute onion in butter
  • Add 2 cans chicken broth, potatoes and carrots, bring to a boil, let cook for 25 minutes until vegetables are softened
  • Add thawed corn and green beans, bring to boil and let cook an additional 5 minutes
  • Add cream corn and green chiles –  mix well – bring to boil
  • Add shredded chicken breast  
  • Mix the Country Gravy to heavy cream,  then add to boiling soup, mix well.
  • Add Pepper Jack Cheese and stir contantly until melted.
  • Continue cooking until cheese is melted and soup thickens.
  • Serve with corn bread or crusty bread.