Sunday, January 13, 2013

Lasagna Soup

This is total comfort food, aka "kid food."  It was also super easy to throw together, and everyone in my house ate two bowls.

The original recipe can be found by clicking here.

I did, as usual, make a couple changes.  The first was that I used spicy chicken sausage instead of turkey sausage.  This was only because that was what they had at the store I was shopping in when buying groceries for last week.

The next change was that I didn't have exactly the right spices (how did I run out of basil!?), so I just threw in a bunch of the "Italian spice mix" I had in my spice cupboard.  I'm sure it wasn't perfect, but no one at my house complained.

The only mistake was that I had let my freezer run out of home-made chicken broth, so I had my husband get some boxed broth from the store.  Oy.  It was nowhere near as good as what I make.  My goodness, the difference.  Nevermind that it was all organic free-range chicken in purified water.  It seemed to have no flavor at all.

By far, the best thing about this soup is the cheesy surprise at the bottom.  So good.  I made a combination of mozzerela, parmesan, and ricotta, not measuring any of them.  My kids loved eating all that ooey-gooey stringy goodness.  So did I.

The soup ready to be ladled in bowls, cheese first. I also needed about three times as much broth as what I had here, but I wasn't running to the store.  No one complained.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Chocolate Peppermint Thumbprints

For some reason, peppermint was my flavor of choice this holiday season.  I always wanted the fancy peppermint mocha drinks and went through a couple little bottles of peppermint extract while baking.

This was my second-favorite peppermint cookie recipe from holidays 2012.

The original recipe can be found by clicking here.

I'm just now getting to a point with my baking experience in being able to deviate at all from a recipe.  Because I was baking these for my kids' teachers, I stuck almost exactly to the recipe, and they turned out so so so good.

I even went out and bought a mini-cupcake pan for these.  Truly, the funnest part in making them was filling each cookie with the chocolate ganache frosting.

Definitely worth giving these a try!

Turkey Dinner Soup

For the last two Thanksgivings, I have made the most decadent soup you could imagine with the broth from the turkey carcass.  If you think picking a chicken is fun, well, a turkey just takes it the whole next level.  Throw in a bottle of cabernet savignon, and you've got yourself a party.

For details on how to make home-made broth, read my latest post.

All you do for leftover Thanksgiving dinner soup is basically throw everything in a pot with the broth.  Well, it's slightly more complicated, but not much.

I always saute some onions, celery, and carrots in some olive oil and garlic first.  Then I shred any leftover turkey meat, either white or dark, and add it to the pot, along with the broth I just made.

Here is where the fun part comes in: if you've got any interesting leftover bits form dinner that might be good, throw them in and see how it goes.  This last year, I added the leftover roasted brussels sprouts with all those yummy caramelized bits from the outer edges.

 I also added some udon noodles that had been in our cabinet for probably two years back from when a nephew lived with us.  I had never cooked udon noodles before, but they were so perfect in this soup!  They reminded me of those super-thick spaghetti noodles we ate in Italy (wish I knew the name).  So perfect and comforting.

Last thing, and truly, the key to this soup's greatness: ADD THE GRAVY.  Yes, I was yelling that at you because I don't want you to forget it.  The leftover gravy is what makes this soup special.  Oh gravy.  Oh my sweet gravy.  Dear, dear, turkey gravy, I love you so.

I would marry you if I could, Turkey Gravy, or at least give you long, lingering, wet kisses as we dance to Sade's "Smooth Operator."  I would definitely not shoo your hand away if it creeped too far south, Turkey Gravy.  That's where you'll end up anyway after I eat you.


My love affair with home-made broth started in conjunction with my love affair with the $7 rotisserie chickens at Whole Foods every Monday.  It's part of their weekday deals program, and I buy one pretty much every Monday.  Sometimes I make things like Hungarian chicken paprikash with it, and sometimes we just tear into it along with a salad and call it dinner.  The vanilla pepper one is awesome.

I can't remember where I first read about making home-made broth, probably in our local newspaper's food section, which I used to read religiously every Wednesday.  I used to buy those expensive jars of "better than bouillon" for soups and such, and I hated spending so much money on something I could make myself that would taste better anyway.

So here is the (very simple) procedure.

1.  Eat up all the meat from your rotisserie chicken.  If you can't finish it in one sitting, pick what's left off and make chicken salad (preferably in the food processor with a little onion, grainy mustard, curry, mayo, salt, pepper...spread on crackers for lunch, with a pickle, it's heaven).

My grandmother always said that heaven for her will be a place full of watermelons and where she doesn't ever have to pick chickens.  I sorta like it though, as does my daughter.

2.  Throw the carcass in a big pot, the size you would use to boil pasta.  I try to remove as much fat as I can, but I don't stress about getting every morsel.

3.  Roughly chop carrots, celery (leaving the leaves), garlic cloves and onions.  Throw those in the pot too.

Notice how roughly everything is chopped and that the leaves are still on the celery stalks.

 4.  Add to the pot any or all of the following: salt, pepper, oregano, thyme, parsley, ginger, marjoram.

5.  Cover everything with water and bring to a boil.  Let it boil for at least an hour, and then let it cool.  Strain what's in the pot, and you have your broth.

A very unattractive photo as I work on my broth, but notice the turkey on the counter behind me.  For the last two Thanksgivings, I've made turkey broth, and holy crap, is it delicious.

I know that broth purists will note that this broth will be cloudy.  Yes, it's true.  I make cloudy broth.  Maybe at some point in the future when my kids are grown, I will take the time to make clear broth, but I just can't be bothered with it now.  What I make tastes delicious and adds so much flavors to my savory recipes, from a plethora of soups to sides like mashed potatoes. 

A final note: I have found that one chicken can make about two and a half quarts of broth, so I usually freeze it in quart-sized ziploc bags and pull it out as I need it. 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013


This might be the only thing I've actually pinned on Pinterest and cooked. Sorry guys I like a lot. Anyway, this recipe seemed way to easy to actually be good, but it was delicious! Three ingredients: candy corn, peanut butter, and chocolate. All you have to do is melt the candy corn in the microwave then mix the peanut butter into it, spread the mix in a pan lined with wax paper and freeze it. Once it's cold enough, melt the chocolate (I used the microwave again, no double broiler) and cut the mix into bars and roll them in the chocolate. Put the bars on a pan and stick them in the fridge to harden. The best thing is they actually taste just like Butterfingers. They're soooooo gooooood. And easy. AND you don't have to get any pans messy, just a few bowls. Enjoy!