Monday, June 11, 2012

Summer colds call for homemade chicken noodle soup with a twist

Two of my three kids are down with summer colds right now so I thought it was the perfect time to make some fresh chicken soup base. I usually make a big batch and use some of it for dinner and then freeze the rest for later. The recipe is super easy and because you use a whole chicken to make the broth you are left with chicken for the week too.

I modified this recipe from one I found in a Martha Stewart Everyday Food magazine. The recipe can be found at I found that the modified version works perfect for my family. I should also mention that I never put salt in my stock. I wait and add the salt when cooking so I can keep it as light as possible.

To make this chicken soup base you will need:

1 whole chicken (I buy the free range chicken at Whole Foods when they are on sale and freeze them to use later)
4 medium carrots, cut into pieces
3 celery stalks, cut into pieces
1 large onion, cut into chunks
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
5 stems parsley (this time I was out of fresh so I used dried)

Place vegetables in a large stock pot with chicken and cover with water. Bring to a boil and then lower heat and simmer for 40 or until the chicken is cooked through.

Remove the chicken and cool for later.

Line a strainer with cheese cloth or a paper towel and place over a pot. Strain out the broth and toss the cooked vegetables.

Your chicken soup base is done. This can be used to make several different soups that I will introduce in future blogs. As I said before I like to freeze a large portion of it for future use.

Now that we have a large supply of chicken soup base we can use a portion of it to make tonights dinner which will be Asian Style Chicken Noodle Soup. The recipe is as follows...

In a large pot combine broth with the following: (The seasoning amounts are for the full pot of broth but I usually only use what I need for dinner...however we like the flavors so I still use the same amount of sauce...if you like mellow flavor you can always use less)

3 TBSP fish sauce
4 TBSP soy sauce
Powdered ginger to taste (Fresh ginger is even better if you have it)

Heat until well combined.

In a separate pot cook your noodles.
(I like to use Japanese Udon noodles but you could also use soba noodles or even regular thin spaghetti is you like)

While the broth and noodles are cooking prepare your fresh ingredients:

Chicken (shredded from the chicken we cooked to make the base)
2 scallions thinly sliced
1/4 cup fresh cilantro
1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
1 jalapeno (optional)
Lime wedges

In each individual bowl combine noodles with chicken and fresh ingredients. Ladle broth over the top and add a squeeze of lime if you wish. Enjoy!

If you like a little spice crushed red pepper flakes or sriracha sauce are a great addition right before you eat it.

This can also be made with firm tofu in place of the chicken (The picture above is made with tofu). Simple saute the tofu in a pan with a little oil and garlic and then add to the soup with the other ingredients.

This soup is a quick dinner if you already have some soup base in the freezer. My family loves it and there are never any leftovers.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Champagne Cocktails

Today is Friday. Friday is my free day. Now when I say this I don't really mean free. I still have to be mommy, cook, maid, teacher, means I can eat and drink without guilt. I exercise daily during the week but on Friday and Saturday I live it up (as much as you can with 3 kids). Today was an exceptionally stressful day since the baby decided to be creative. I will spare you the details but the resulting mess (toxic) was enough to drive anyone to drink. And so my recipe for the day is just that...alcoholic!

Tonight we are making Champagne Cocktails. Now, the only time I have ever heard of this drink was in the movie "Blast from the Past" and they make reference to it being a drink for prostitutes to which Brendon Frasier's character responds "I know my mom likes them." Well, as a mom I know why. They are delicious and they make the special parts of the day just melt away.

I found this drink on pinterest and the recipe can be found at

To create this wonderful cocktail you will need:


The Classic Champagne Cocktail:
  • 1 sugar cube or 1/4 oz. simple syrup
  • 3 dashes Angostura bitters (kind of shake it out like you would Tabasco)
  • 1/2 oz. quality Cognac or Armagnac (You can use cheap Champagne as long as the Cognac is decent - we used Hennessy Very Special Cognac)
  • 4 oz. Champagne or sparking wine (We used Ballatore)
  • 1 large lemon twist (give it a squeeze from a lemon wedge - a few drops will do)

I made some simple syrup prior to making the drink and if you want to go this route the recipe is as follows:

1 cup water
1 cup sugar

Boil water then add sugar and stir until dissolved...voila...simple syrup. The name really does say it all. I bought a really cheap glass bottle at Walmart for about $2.00 to keep the simple syrup in for future uses.

To make your liabation:
  1. Mix bitters, simple syrup and cognac over ice and shake.
  2. Add squeeze of lemon
  3. Pour cognac mixture into a champagne flute and fill the remaining space with champagne. 
  4. Enjoy!

I am not a hard liquor drinking girl. I like things light and sweet. If you are like me then this is the drink for you.

I am not trying to say that being a mom is driving me to drink but I think if you are a mom you understand how Friday night feels. To all my mommy friends I raise a toast to you...whether you work outside the home or not you have one of the hardest jobs in the world and if a drink now and then help you to keep your sanity then I say...pour me another! Sláinte!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Homemade Marshmallows

There is nothing that makes us feel more like kids in the summer than the idea of making s'mores over a roaring fire. My idea was to try and make this childhood classic even better by creating a marshmallow that would leave a truly lasting impression on the minds and taste buds of my children.

About a year ago I was looking through the bargain books at Barnes and Noble (this is a great place to get cookbooks for cheap) when I found an awesome cookbook for making kids treats. The best part was the book was marked down to $2.99! I figured even if I only wanted to use a few of the recipes in the book the price was great so I bought it. This marshmallow recipe is the first one I am trying out of the book but based on the results I will be trying others.

The book is called "Sticky, Chewy, Messy, Gooey, Treats for Kids" by Jill O'Connor. The recipe we are making today is called "Glamorous Movie Star Marshmallows". The end of the recipe calls for decorating the finished squares with dusting sugar or even Luster Dust. I am choosing to keep mine a traditional white for now. Two items that are very important for this venture are a candy thermometer (I got mine for a couple dollars at Walmart) and a stand mixer with a whisk attachment.

The ingredients you will need for you Marshmallows are as follows:

  • Cornstarch for dusting (I used tapioca starch)
  • 1 cup cold water
  • 3 TBSP unflavored granulated gelatin
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup light corn syrup (I used brown rice syrup)
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 TBSP Vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar for dusting

  • Take a 9x9 pan and prepare with a non sticking cooking item. I use Wilton's cake release product since it is non-hydrogenated but you could use cooking spray. Dust with cornstarch or tapioca in my case.
  • Pour 1/2 of the cold water into the bowl of a stand mixer and sprinkle with gelatin. Allow to sit 45 minutes to absorb.

  • In a saucepan over medium heat combine remaining 1/2 cup water, sugar, corn syrup (or rice syrup) and salt. Heat until the sugar dissolves (you can stir a little). Increase heat to high and bring mixture to a boil (be careful- it almost boiled over). Cook syrup using a candy thermometer to 240 degrees (soft ball). (Do not go over 244) Remove syrup from the heat and slowly pour into the gelatin mix with the mixer on low. After all the syrup is added increase the mixer speed to high and beat until the mixture looks similar to marshmallow fluff (white and very thick) I put a towel over the mixer for the first few minute to catch any flying hot mixture. The book said about 15 minutes but it took me a little more than 10. At this point mix in the vanilla extract.
  • Pour the mixture into your prepared pan and smooth the top. Dust with a coating of powdered sugar and allow to set for 8-12 hours.

  • Turn marshmallows out of pan onto parchment or silpat, brush off any residual cornstarch and sprinkle with powdered sugar. Cut into 5 even strips both ways using sharp knife or pizza cutter. Roll cut edge in sugar shaking off extra. Marshmallows should be stored in a air tight container for 2-3 days. I layered them with wax paper to keep them from sticking to each other.

    The Marshmallows turned out great...very tasty...sticky and sweet...but...

when you roast them they turn into something decedent! They are gooey goodness!

You may ask yourself why in the world would I want to make marshmallows when I can buy them at the store? To that my answer would marshmallow from the store EVER tasted like this when warmed over an open flame. I believe once in everyone's lifetime something this good and real should be tasted and enjoyed. Now to make some graham crackers (I bought the flour the other day) I think these marshmallows deserve a very special cracker and some rich chocolate for the ultimate sinful treat.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Homemade greek yogurt

For my first official recipe I decided to do something I have been wanting to try since I found it on pinterest the other day. Homemade Greek Yogurt.


Okay, this was an epic failure...nothing happened to the milk...nothing! I followed the directions and even got up in the middle of the night to check the temperature but either I did something wrong or this recipe is not for beginners. Regardless, cooking is about both success and failure so we persevere and move on to another recipe.

As Winston Churchill said "Success consists of going from failure to failure without loss of enthusiasm."

And so I enthusiastically move on to my next experiment: Homemade Marshmallows

Getting started...

Recently I have had multiple requests for the recipes that I have been making for my family. Rather than flooding facebook with this information I thought I would try starting a blog. My hope is that this will be a place to complile not only yummy recipes but also projects of a crafty nature. I also have an affinity for parties so expect to see lots of posts about the kids birthday parties. Hopefully this blog will be more frolicking and less pandemonium but as all moms know - it is always a balancing act.