Old-Fashioned Homemade Chicken Soup for Beginners

When I have a head cold, nothing makes me feel better than the smell and taste of good old-fashioned chicken noodle soup.

So when my throat started aching, nose started running, cough began croaking, ears felt like they were stuffed with cotton, and head began pounding this week, I knew I had to get a pot of soup on.

Not only does the smell comfort me and remind me of Grandma’s house and love, but the steam clears up the stuffed nose and the warm broth soothes my sore throat.

When other foods lose their flavor when your head is congested, nothing tastes as good as homemade chicken soup.

If you are a beginner cook, I hope you will find this recipe easy to follow.  It is made from staple ingredients I almost always have in my kitchen, and though it takes a couple hours to simmer,  you can throw it together quickly and forget about it during that time – enjoying the aroma and anticipation of comfort.

Here is how I make it.

Old-Fashioned Homemade Chicken Soup for Beginners

  • Servings: approx. 12
  • Print

Ingredients

  • 2 lbs Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts (I like to use Trader Joe’s Frozen Organic Boneless & Skinless Chicken Breasts)
  • 12 cups water
  • 6 sticks celery cut into 4-5 inch pieces
  • 1 cup shortcut carrots
  • 5-6 tsp. chicken soup base (I like Bell-View)
  • 2 large cloves garlic
  • 2 large sweet onions, halved
  • 1/4  cup fresh chopped parsley (or 1 Tbsp dried parsley)
  • 1 Tbsp ground pepper
  • 12 oz. pkg Kluski egg noodles (I like Pennsylvania Dutch brand)

Directions:

Place frozen chicken breasts in large soup pot.  Cover with 12 cups cold water.  Add celery, carrots, chicken base, whole garlic cloves, onions, parsley, and pepper.  Cover and bring to a rolling boil.

Once boiling, reduce heat and simmer with lid tilted slightly so it is not tight fitting, but allows steam to escape.  Simmer for approximately 2 hours or until broth level reduces 1/2 – 1 inch.  You can tell this by looking at the side of the pot where a line will be formed where soup started.  This will allow the broth to build depth of flavor.

When soup is almost done, boil noodles in a separate pot, cooking 2-3 minutes less than directions.  Drain and rinse well with cold water.  Set aside.

When soup broth is done, pour through strainer into a larger pot.  The broth will go into the pot, and the chicken and vegetables will remain in the strainer.

When cool enough to handle, chop chicken and vegetables into bite-sized pieces.  Add back to broth, then add drained and rinsed noodles.   Stir to incorporate all.

Your soup is now ready to enjoy.  This soup keeps well for up to a week in the refrigerator and also freezes well.

Beginner’s sidenotes/tips:  You can certainly use a whole chicken or chicken parts, but it is a lot more work to clean the chicken from the bone, and remove the skin and fat after cooking to cut up for the soup.  Using chicken breasts also eliminated the need to allow the broth to cool and fat to rise to top to skim off as there is little to no fat in the chicken breasts.  Chicken breasts also allow for a heartier soup with big chunks of tender chicken.  Buying a better grade and organic chicken will give you better flavor and better food value.  I’ve found with cheaper brands of chicken, there is fat and gristle that needs removed as well as ligaments that need cut out.

You can certainly use whole raw carrots, but the convenient short-cut carrots save the need for peeling and cutting down carrots into manageable pieces.

While dried herbs are always good to have on hand in a pinch, nothing will make your recipes better than using fresh herbs.  Fresh parsley as opposed to dried will really add a whole new sophisticated level to your soup.

Always cook your noodles separately, and drain and rinse well in cold water.  This will remove the starch that cooks off the pasta from being in your soup and “muddying up” the broth’s texture and flavor.  Rinsing in cold water will stop the “cooking” that still continues in food like pasta while it is still hot.

Cook noodles 2-3 minutes less than directions say to avoid soggy, mushy noodles in your soup.  As they sit in the soup, they will soften and plump even more, so no need to over-cook.

Do not add oil or salt to the noodles when boiling.  There is plenty of salt in the soup base that will make the broth.  It is almost impossible to “unsalt” soup, but additional salt can always be added for individual taste or preference.  If you over-salt, add more water to broth or consider boiling a whole peeled potato in the broth.  The potato will absorb some of the salt.  You can then throw the potato out, hopefully salvaging your broth.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Four Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash

Four Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash.

I have always enjoyed spaghetti squash, but now that I have discovered this recipe…….. well…. now I LOOOVVVEE spaghetti squash!

This is absolutely the most amazing way to eat it!

Imagine a version of mac ‘n cheese without the macaroni carbs or calories and replaced with healthy spaghetti squash “noodles.”  (Macaroni carbs 78g/cup vs. Spaghetti Squash carbs 7g/cup – Macaroni calories 221/cup vs. Spaghetti Squash calories 31/cup!)

But…… it also has the most amazing flavor, you won’t even miss your macaroni!

When I saw a recipe at Eatwell101 for this amazingness, I knew I had to try.  I tweaked it up a bit, and here is how I made it.

Hope you will give it a try!  You won’t be sorry!

Four Cheese Garlic Spaghetti Squash

Ingredients

  • 1 large spaghetti squash
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups Half and Half
  • 5 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. chicken base or 1 chicken bouillon cube, crushed
  • 1/2 tsp dried thyme (or 1 Tbsp. fresh thyme)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped scallions or green onions
  • 1 cup freshly shredded cheese – I used the following combination:
    • 1/4 cup Mozarella
    • 1/4 cup White Cheddar
    • 1/4 cup Parmesan
    • 1/4 cup Gruyere

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut both ends off of spaghetti squash and cut in half lengthwise.  Scrape out seeds.  Place both halves in a 9×13 baking dish flesh side up.  Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Combine half and half, garlic, chicken base (or bouillon), thyme, and scallions in a small bowl.

Sprinkle half of shredded cheese in the cavities of each halved squash.  Pour half of cream mixture into each squash half.  Top with remaining shredded cheese.

Roast for 40 mins, or until squash flesh is tender when poked with a fork.

Remove from oven and carefully scrape squash from skin with a fork creating spaghetti “noodles.”  Mix well with cheese and cream, and serve immediately.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Pumpkin Chili

Pumpkin Chili.

Autumn is the season for all things pumpkin!  (Can I get an “Amen?”)

So when a friend recently mentioned pumpkin chili, I just knew I had to try it.

I found a recipe online and tweaked it a bit.

And Oh My Pumpkin Lovin’ Heart!!!!!

Not only is this pot of comfort delicious, it is healthy and nutritious!  It’s chock full of veggies and ground turkey and chicken.  Pumpkin is heart healthy with fiber, potassium, and vitamin C.  Tomatoes provide the antioxidant lycopene, which has been linked to many health benefits, including reduced risk of heart disease and cancer. They are also a great source of vitamin C, potassium, folate and vitamin K.

A tub of this is being delivered today to a family near and dear to my heart who just welcomed a new baby (their second), along with some cornbread, so busy Mommy doesn’t have to worry.  Hoping big brother loves this as much as my granddaughter loved sampling all the ingredients that went into making this yesterday.

Give this yummy recipe a try, and let me know how you LOVE it.

Happy Pumpkin Season!

Pumpkin Chili

Ingredients

  • 1 lb ground turkey
  • 6 links (8 oz.) sweet apple with maple chicken sausage (or your fave), chopped
  • 1 sweet onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/3 cup chopped sweet red, orange, or yellow peppers
  • 2 16 oz. cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 16 oz. cans pumpkin puree
  • 1 28 oz can crushed tomatoes
  • 1 16 oz can diced tomatoes
  • 2 cups chicken broth
  • 3 Tbsp. chili powder
  • 1 Tbsp. oregano
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 2 tsp. brown sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 4 Tbsp. olive oil

Garnishes (optional):  sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, sliced green onions

Directions

In a large pot, heat 2 Tbsp. olive oil, and saute onion and garlic for 2 min.  Add peppers, and saute another 3-4 mins.  Remove from pot and reserve.

Add 2 more Tbsp. olive oil to pot, and brown ground turkey and chopped chicken sausage approx. 10 minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.

Add veggies back into pot, along with beans, pumpkin, tomatoes, chicken broth, and spices.  Stir well.

Lower heat, cover pot, and simmer for 1 1/2 – 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

To serve, garnish (if desired) with a dollop of sour cream, shredded cheddar cheese, and sliced green onions.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Spinach & Goat Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops

Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops.

It is taking me a while to learn to cook for just two since becoming “empty” nesters.  Lately, it seems, we order in, go out, eat simple, or eat leftovers for days and days and days when I do cook.

I still try to make a nice meal on Sunday, even if it is just the two of us.  This past Sunday, I decided to make stuffed pork chops with a pack of (just two!) beautifully thick, center cut Iowa Chops I had picked up.

Instead of the usual bread stuffing, though, I wanted to do something different.  So after perusing the web and finding a number of interesting combinations, I came up with a combination of fresh iron-rich spinach, creamy goat cheese, garlic to kick it up, and ruby red roasted red peppers for their beautiful color and flavor.


It made a beautiful, delicious, and healthier stuffing for our chops, and I served them on a bed of zoodles (spiral cut zucchini noodles).

How do you like to stuff your chops?!  Hope you’ll give this version a try.  Simply double or triple depending on how many you are cooking for if you are fortunate enough to be serving a crowd.

Spinach and Goat Cheese Stuffed Pork Chops

Ingredients

  • 2 thick boneless Pork Chops (I used Iowa Chops*)
  • 1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
  • 1 Tbsp. Butter
  • 2 cups fresh Spinach
  • 1 Roasted Red Pepper, chopped
  • 1/3 cup goat cheese
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/2 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/2 tsp. dried basil
  • 1/2 tsp. dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp. dried parsley
  • 1/2 tsp. seasoned salt

 

Directions

Steam spinach in microwave with 1 Tbsp. water for 1 minute on High until wilted.  Drain, and squeeze water out.  Add chopped roasted red peppers, minced garlic, and goat cheese.  Stir to combine.

Cut a slit in each pork chop to create a pocket, being careful not to cut through to other side.

Spoon half of spinach mixture into the pocket of each pork chop.

Mix breadcrumbs, basil, oregano, parsley, and seasoned salt in shallow dish.  Press stuffed pork chops  on both sides into the bread crumb mixture to coat.

Heat oil and butter in skillet over medium/high heat.  Add pork chops, and cook 4-5 minutes until nicely browned.  Flip over and brown on other side until now longer pink in the middle.  (If chops are extremely thick, you may want to put chops in preheated 375 degree oven for an additional 10 minutes once browned.)

*Iowa Chops:  The notorious “Iowa Chop” is a seriously thick and succulent pork chop cut from the lower back of the hog just behind the rib.   The thickness (1.25-1.5 inches) of this chop led it to be coined “The Iowa Chop” in the 1980’s by the Iowa Pork Producers Association.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

(P.S. If you are a subscriber and seeing this twice, sorry for the inconvenience!  I somehow scheduled it to publish in an incomplete state last evening, so have updated.  Thanks for reading!)

Pan Seared Lemon and Garlic Mahi Mahi

Pan Seared Lemon and Garlic Mahi Mahi.

I adooooore seafood!

When eating out, I will likely order seafood 80% of the time.

Chilean Sea Bass… Salmon…Lobster… Shrimp… Scallops…  Tuna…  Fish Sandwiches…  Fish and Chips… Fish Tacos!

And then there is Mahi Mahi!  Ohhhh  the light, mild, delicate flavor of heavenly deliciousness…..  no wonder you have to say it TWICE!

I don’t often cook seafood at home as Hubby is not nearly the fan that I am, but I snuck this yumminess in last night for dinner.  A couple of wonderful wild caught Mahi Mahi fillets pan seared with onions, garlic, thyme and lemon zest – this recipe is quick as a wink, healthy as all get out (did you know a 3-4 ounce serving of Mahi Mahi has 20 grams of protein, contains all the amino acides you need to survive, and is under 100 calories?!), and melts in your mouth better than butter!

Here is how I made it thanks to the inspiration from ChicFitChef:

Pan Seared Lemon and Garlic Mahi Mahi

Ingredients:

  • 2 3-4oz Mahi Mahi fillets, patted dry
  • 2 lemons, zested and juice reserved
  • 1 tsp dried thyme or 1 Tbsp. freshly minced thyme (fresh is always preferred if possible)
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • Olive oil

Directions:

Heat olive oil in skillet until searing hot!

Meanwhile, combine lemon zest, thyme, salt and pepper.   Coat patted-dry fish fillets on both sides with this seasoning.

Add onion slices to hot skillet.  Once onions are golden brown (about 2-3 minutes), add fish to sear for 3-4 minutes (without moving).

Turn fish fillets over with a spatula, and let sear for another 3-4 minutes on other side.

Lower heat, and add minced garlic and lemon juice.  Cover pan, and cook fish another 3-4 minutes.

Remove from heat and serve.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

Quick and Easy Peach Puff Pastry Tartlets

Quick and Easy Peach Puff Pastry Tartlets.

This Sunday, we had the family over for dinner.  Hubby made the most amazing BBQ spare ribs, which we served with grilled sweet corn on the cob, cowboy baked beans and a caprese salad.  A fresh peach dessert seemed the perfect ending for this BBQ, but I didn’t feel like fussing much.

Knowing I had a package of puff pastry in the freezer, I quickly googled “peaches and puff pastry” and found this wonderful recipe at Natasha’s Kitchen.

These only took about 10 minutes to throw together and 15 minutes to bake for a beautiful and super delicious dessert.

Well – at least that is what I hear…. You’ll have to take my family’s word for how delish they were as I didn’t get to try one.  They’re gone (which is always a good sign).

When your sons ask for a second (or a third), you happily feed them and drink a glass of wine instead <wink>!  I can make these anytime I want again, but feeding my guys and daughter-in-laws and granddaughter and a bestie – – – seeing smiles, hearing yums, and getting hugs – – – well – that’s all this momma needs.

I’m pretty sure I’ll be making these again!  I’m betting sliced apples and walnuts would be a wonderful Autumn version as well as loads of other fruit and nut combinations.

Here’s Natasha’s recipe as I made it.

Quick and Easy Peach Puff Pastry Tartlets

Ingredients:

  • 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed 20-30 mins.
  • 1 egg
  • 2 large fresh peaches
  • 2 Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/3 cup sliced almonds
  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 Tbsp milk

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400˚F.

Cut thawed puff pastry into 9 equal sized squares and place on parchment lined baking sheet or baking stone.

Beat egg in a small bowl and set aside.

Slice peaches and place in a medium mixing bowl. Sprinkle with sugar,  flour, cinnamon, and vanilla.  Gently fold together.

Place 3 -4 peach slices in the center of each pastry square. Avoid getting peach juice on pastry edges. Brush edges generously with beaten egg. Sprinkle sliced almonds over pastry and peaches.

Bake at 400˚F for 15-18 minutes or until puffed and golden on the edges.  Remove from oven and let cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes.

While cooling, make the glaze by stirring together powdered sugar, vanilla and milk in a small bowl or measuring cup. Add more milk if needed to reach desired consistency.   Drizzle over cooled tartlets.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

#Natashaskitchen

Cantaloupe Margaritas

Cantaloupe Margaritas.

Summer is coming to an end, but there is still plenty of time for celebrating!

And what is more summery than melons…. and margaritas?

Combined…….. they create heaven in a glass!

We were invited to friends’ house for dinner one evening this week, and I was asked to bring wine.

Well – I love my wine (and took a bottle with us), but I thought something a little more creative was in order for our little get-together, so I decided to make a pitcher of this amazingness!

We LOVED them!  (and can I admit I actually doubled the recipe provided below… which is already doubled from the original I found?)

Sooooo worth it!  Even if you don’t think so the next morning! <wink>

Create this beautiful sunshine in a glass before summer is over.   You will be the hit of the party!

Cantaloupe Margaritas*

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 medium cantaloupe, seeded, skin removed, and cut into small pieces (to produce 2 cups of strained pulp)
  • 1 cup Triple Sec
  • 1 1/2 cups Silver Tequila
  • Coarse Salt or Raw Sugar for rimming glasses
  • Cantaloupe balls and lime wedges for garnish

Directions:

In a small saucepan over medium heat, bring water and sugar to a boil.  Stir until clear to create a simple syrup.  Remove from heat and add the lime juice.  Set aside to cool.

In a blender (or food processor), blend cantaloupe chunks into a fine pulp.  (You may need to do in small batches.)  Pour pulp into a fine mesh strainer set over a large measuring cup or small bowl and strain, lightly pressing the solids until you get 2 cups of liquid.

Combine syrup and lime juice with cantaloupe in pitcher.  Add triple sec and tequila and stir.  Chill.

Pour over crushed or cubed ice into glasses rimmed with salt or sugar.  Garnish with melon ball and lime slice if desired.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Recipe Source:  The Brewer & the Baker

Zucchini Pizza Casserole

Zucchini Pizza Casserole.

Are you enjoying the abundance of garden fresh zucchini squash in new and creative ways?

There are oodles of zoodles.  There are breads and brownies.  There are soups and sticks,  fries and fritters  and frico.  There are even planks and boats.

Well – here’s one that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.  It is Hubby tested and two thumbs up approved here!

A version of this recipe was recently posted by a friend on Facebook in one of those hyperlapse videos that make everything look easy.  And in this case, it was!

This is a wonderfully delicious, cheesy, gluten-free, low-carb way to get your protein and veggies all in one wonderful casserole.

Serve it with a fresh green salad, and you will be all set.

We really, really, really loved this, and it made enough that we’ll be happily enjoying it for a few days!

Give it a try, and let me know if you like it as much as we did.

Zucchini Pizza Casserole*

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups shredded zucchini (do not peel)
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup freshly shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 1 lb fresh Mozzarella cheese, sliced thinly
  • 1 lb ground beef or turkey
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (15oz.) jar of your favorite pizza or tomato sauce
  • 1 medium sweet red, yellow, orange, or green pepper, chopped
  • Salt and Pepper
  • 2-4 leaves fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.  Place grated zucchini in a colander, sprinkle with about  1 tsp salt.  Let set for 10 minutes.  Squeeze out water.

In medium bowl, combine zucchini, eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan, and 1/2 cup cheddar cheese.  Mix well and press into a greased 13×9″ baking dish.  Top with half of the mozzarella cheese slices.  Bake for 20 minutes.

While that is baking, brown ground beef or turkey with onion and garlic, and salt and pepper in a large saucepan.  Add pizza or tomato sauce, and stir well.

Spoon meat mixture over top of baked zucchini mixture.  Top with remaining 1/2 cup Parmesan, 1/2 cup cheddar, sliced mozzarella and chopped peppers.  Sprinkle with chopped basil.  Bake for 20 more minutes until browned and bubbly.

Let stand for 5-10 minutes before serving.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

*Slightly adapted from Taste of Home.

Homemade Dark Sweet Cherry & Basil Sorbet

Homemade Dark Sweet Cherry and Basil Sorbet.

What could be more refreshing on a hot August day than deliciously creamy sorbet?!

And who knew how easy it is to make?

No special equipment needed.
Simple ingredients.
Gourmet flavor!

You simply make a simple syrup from water and sugar and blend with fresh fruit (and herbs if you like).

I made mine yesterday with fresh sweet dark cherries and a hint of fresh basil, but imagine all the possibilities!  Cantaloupe, Raspberry, Blackberry, Blueberry, Pear, Watermelon, Honeydew, Pineapple, Kiwi, Mango…….  Maybe a  leaf or two of mint instead of basil.  Maybe a sprig of rosemary.  Maybe no herbs.  A dash of fresh lemon or lime juice would add a lovely kick.

Here is the recipe for this simple, refreshing, indulgence.

Homemade Dark Sweet Cherry and Basil Sorbet

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 fresh basil leaves
  • 4 cups pitted dark sweet cherries

Directions:

Make simple syrup by boiling water and sugar for 2-3 minutes in small saucepan until sugar is dissolved.  Remove from heat, and add basil leaves.  Pour syrup into a small glass bowl or measuring cup and refrigerate approximately 1 hour until cooled.  Remove and discard basil leaves.

Place cherries in a blender.  Pour simple syrup over cherries.  Blend on high until cherries are fully blended into syrup and no chunks remain.  Pour into glass 9×13 dish and place in freezer.  After one hour, stir with spoon from outside edges to center and mash together.  Repeat after two hours.

Remove from freezer and place sorbet in blender again.  Blend on high until consistency is creamy.  Pour back into glass dish and place in freezer for another 2 hours or until ready to serve.  Scoop out with ice cream scoop or spoon.

Enjoy!

Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi

S’Mores Cookies

S’Mores Cookies.

It’s been a tough week.
Have you been feeling it too?

It’s time to have some fun!

And what s’more fun than homemade cookies?

Especially when they are loaded with milk chocolate and graham crackers and tiny bits of marshmallow yumminess?

It was s’more fun to take my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe and give it a s’mores twist.

Are you going to make s’more?
Hope you think they are s’more fun and delicious!

S'Mores Cookies

Ingredients:

4 sticks (1 lb.) butter, softened
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups white granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla
4 eggs
2 tsp baking soda
2 tsp salt
5 cups all purpose flour
6 1.55 oz Hershey’s milk chocolate candy bars, coarsely chopped
6 honey graham crackers, coarsely chopped
1 cup mini dehydrated marshmallows

Directions:

With electric mixer, beat butter and sugar together until completely incorporated. Add vanilla and eggs, and beat until light and fluffy. Add baking soda and salt, and mix another minute. Gradually add flour and beat until well incorporated, but do not overbeat.

Fold in 4 of the coarsely chopped Hershey’s bars, 4 of the coarsely chopped graham  crackers, and 3/4 cup of the mini dehydrated marshmallows.  Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours or up to 2 days.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375 degrees F. With your hands, form a cookie dough ball about 1-1/2 inches in diameter.  Place on baking stone. Decorate tops of cookies with reserved candy, graham crackers, and marshmallows.  Bake for 8-10 minutes. Do not overbake. Allow to cool on baking stone for 5-6 minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

S’more Cheers & Hugs,
Jodi