homemade stock

the market may be down, but i think it is time to invest in stocks… chicken stocks! homemade stocks are so much more rich and flavorful than store-bought versions. after cooking a whole chicken and stripping the meat, place the bones and any leftover skin into a stock pot. i use this one by le creuset and it is perfect. shout out to my inlaws for that awesome birthday present a few years ago! if you don’t have a stock pot, use any deep pot that you might use to cook spaghetti. you can add whatever you would like to flavor the stock but this is what i used:

  • 4 stalks of celery, leaves included
  • 1 onion, quartered
  • 3 bay leaves
  • pinch of salt

add these things into the stock pot and cover the chicken and veggies entirely with water, cover and let simmer on a low boil for 4-5 hours.

pour the mixture through a large fine mesh strainer into a bowl. pour the stock into a jar to store in the fridge if you don’t use immediately. the stock should be fresh for 7 days in the fridge. happy cooking!

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homemade stock

chicken tortilla soup

it’s soup season! i love the cold weather and being able to come home and have some warm, yummy soup makes me very happy. after i made chicken noodle soup earlier this week, i used the chicken bones to create a homemade stock. i decided to make chicken tortilla soup with the stock before it spoils. my husband really loves brothy soups with lots of chunky substance and chicken tortilla soup is always one of his requests for dinner. we have tried the grocery store kits when we were feeling lazy but my recipe is really easy and so flavorful! caution: it’s pretty spicy so tone down the spices if you can’t handle the heat 🙂 here we go!

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requirements:

  • 1 red or orange bell pepper, diced
  • 1 green bell pepper, diced
  • 1 onion, diced
  • 3 cloves of garlic, chopped and minced
  • 3 chicken breasts
  • 16 oz chicken stock (or 1 small can is fine)
  • 1 can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 can diced or smashed tomatoes
  • 1 can rotel with green chiles
  • 2 tablespoons chili powder
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper (we like tons of spice!)
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • pinch of black pepper
  • 2 chipotle peppers (more or less to taste)
  • cilantro for garnish
  • lime for garnish
  • cheese for garnish
  • tortilla chips for garnish
  • sour cream for garnish

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instructions are as follows:

  1. begin by heating a deep dutch oven or stock pot to medium heat. i used this one by le creuset. it’s my favorite! add a drizzle of olive oil, chicken breast and the minced garlic. let it cook for a few minutes while you prep the veggies.
  2. add the chopped onion, bell peppers and chipotle peppers and cook for a few minutes.
  3. add seasonings: chili powder, cumin, garlic powder, cayenne pepper, salt and pepper.
  4. pour in the chicken stock and stir. take the bottle or can of chicken stock and fill it up two or three times with water and add to the pot to dilute the stock.
  5. add the black beans, kidney beans, corn and all of the tomatoes. if you’d like, you can add as much water as you’d like to thin out the soup.
  6. cook for a half hour on medium heat with a slow simmer. remove the chicken and shred. then add the chicken back into the soup.
  7. cook for another half hour on medium heat and then ladle into bowls.
  8. top with any or all of the following: squeeze of lime, cilantro, sour cream, cheese and tortilla chips. ps- i added avocado last minute!

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this soup serves 6 people with leftovers. it was so yummy and flavorful. you could try making variations of the soups by adding different beans or veggies. maybe adding jalapeno or subbing some of the spices. also shout out to the pioneer woman collection for the cutest bowls ever! happy eating!

chicken tortilla soup

chicken noodle soup

it’s finally getting cold in texas and i can already feel the allergies and colds in my future. after all of the excitement and traveling from the holidays, my husband and i needed a relaxing evening at home with some comfort food. i decided to make chicken noodle soup!

this soup is so easy, hearty and yummy. i’m already excited for leftovers!

i started off by unpacking a 3-4 lb whole chicken and rinsing it in the sink. i haven’t cooked with a whole chicken before and as i was rinsing it, all of the gizzards and insides shot out into the sink. it surprised me and i had a little laugh. i placed the whole chicken into a deep dutch oven and covered with water.

Chicken Broth

cook on medium heat with a simmer for about an hour until the chicken is falling off of the bone. in the meantime, begin cutting up the veggies.

ps- yes that is coors light in the background of the photo- we are super classy.

you will need 1 onion, 3-4 stalks of celery and 3-4 carrots. these are the ingredients that make up classic mirepoix. mirepoix is the base for a lot of soups and stews.

Mirepoix

after giving the veggies a rough chop, mince 3-4 cloves of garlic depending on how much you like.

Garlicafter all of the veggies are prepped, pull out some spices. of course, you can really use whatever you have in your cupboard. i used 3 bay leaves, 1 tablespoon of poultry seasoning, 1 teaspoon ground thyme, 1 teaspoon ground sage and two tablespoons of emeril’s cajun essence seasoning. i couldn’t help but give this soup some BAM! you could also add some rosemary or fresh thyme.

Seasonings

when the chicken is fully cooked, remove the entire chicken and place on a plate until it has cooled down. in the meantime, add the veggies, salt, pepper and other seasonings to the broth. cook for 15 minutes on a slow simmer until the veggies are softened.

Cajun Seasoning

once the veggies have softened, remove the bay leaves and add a few cups or handfuls of egg noodles. i used some wonderful amish egg noodles that i bought from out local grocery store. cook the noodles according to the directions on their package. meanwhile, shred the chicken from the bone.

once the noodles are cooked, add the chicken to the broth and bring to a boil, then turn off the heat and serve.

Upclose Soup

yummy – i love this soup!!

Chicken Noodle Soup

chicken noodle soup

shepherd’s pie

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i came across a picture of a traditional shepherd’s pie recently and decided to try it out for myself. since the british typically use lamb in their shepherd’s pie, i decided to go with that as well. it was super easy to throw together and the ingredients were super easy to track down. here we go!

ingredients:

  • 1 lb ground lamb (or beef if you prefer).
  • a few teaspoons of olive oil.
  • 2-3 carrot sticks, sliced.
  • 1 whole small onion.
  • a few cloves of garlic, minced.
  • the leaves from a few sprigs of fresh thyme.
  • 3 teaspoons tomato paste.
  • 4-5 splashes of worcestershire sauce
  • a few dashes of A1 sauce. (optional- I thought it would add a nice flavor)
  • 1-1/2 cups of frozen peas.
  • 1 can of guinness.
  • salt.
  • pepper.
  • 4-5 russet potatoes, peeled, sliced.
  • 1/2 cup milk or half & half.
  • half of a stick of butter.
  • handful of cheese, optional.

now that we have all of our ingredients together, let’s get this party started!

directions:

1. preheat the oven to 400 degrees f.  drizzle the olive oil into a large sauce pan on medium heat or dutch oven pot. i used the everyday pan by le creuset which i love and was perfect for this dish.

2. add in the sliced carrots, chopped onions, fresh thyme and the cloves of garlic. IMG_3074

one of my shortcut items that i use are these frozen blocks of minced garlic that you can pop in without the whole peeling and mincing mess. you can buy them at trader joes or heb.

3. after you cook for about 8 minutes until the onions and carrots are tender, add in the lamb and break into small pieces. cook until browned which is about 10 minutes. IMG_3075

4. add in the 3 teaspoons of tomato paste and frozen peas and stir it into the mixture.

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5. after cooking for one or two minutes, add in the dashes of worcestershire sauce and a1 sauce. continue stirring while you pour in the guinness.

6. turn up the heat to a simmer and  let the sauce thicken. if it looks too dry, add a little more guinness.

7. in the mean time, begin working on the mashed potatoes. peel, chop and boil several russet potatoes. drain and place in a blender. add the half stick of butter, milk or cream and begin to beat the potatoes. season with salt and pepper.

8. once the sauce has thickened, remove from heat and begin to cover with the mashed potatoes.

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9. cover the entire dish with potatoes, sealing the edges and place in the 400f oven for 25 minutes.

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10. after 20 minutes, i took the pan out and added shredded cheddar cheese because i am completely and totally incapable of controlling myself. why not add cheese?

11. five minutes later, it was done and it was glorious.

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i would recommend this to everyone and it was fun and easy to make. i can’t wait for leftovers!

shepherd’s pie

roast dinner

it’s starting to get cooler outside so i decided that it was totally and completely necessary for me to start using my slow cooker as much as possible. i decided to kick off the cooler weather with a pot roast. i picked a smaller cut of rump roast since i cook for two people. here it is and boy was it yummy!

Roast Dinner

for the roast:

  1. season meat with salt pepper and toss into the crock pot. this is my slow cooker and i love love love it!
  2. top with a half cup of good red wine…. or a little more- get crazy!  i used petite petit by michael david which is one of my favorite wines.
  3. quarter a few white onions(1-2) , slice up some (4) red potatoes and chop up some carrots (1) and add to the slow cooker.
  4. add a few teaspoons of worcestershire sauce, a few dashes of seasoned salt and some fresh cracked black pepper over the top.
  5. pour some beef broth (6 cups) over the top of the roast until mostly covered.
  6. leave the slow cooker on low for 8 hours or until completely tender. if you are going to be at work all day, leave the slow cooker on “simmer” which is between warm and low on my machine until you get home and then turn up to low for the last hour and a half.

for the potatoes:

  1. boil 2 (serves 2) peeled and chopped potatoes then drain and add to mixing bowl. my grandpa’s tip for mashed potatoes was to have one medium sized potato per person (and add LOTS of butter).
  2. add a third stick of butter, a quarter cup of half and half and a few dollops of sour cream or cream cheese and begin to blend in a mixer.
  3. as the potatoes begin to get creamy, add salt & fresh cracked black pepper.

for the green beans:

  1. i almost always use fresh veggies but this time, i found a can of green beans in my pantry and decided to cook that. i popped open the can, drained and tossed in a sauce pan.
  2. add a quarter cup of water and cook the green beans on low for 5-6 minutes or until hot.
  3. add a few dashes of salt, pepper and serve hot.

don’t forget to spoon the yummy brothy goodness over the meat when served. i hope you enjoy this recipe as well as the wonderful winter weather headed our way for good!

roast dinner

salmon & grilled veggies

i bought some yummy vegetables from the grocery store and prepped them before i went to spin class so that they would all be ready to grill when i got back. from left to right, i chose zucchini, broccolini, bok choy, asparagus and bell peppers. aren’t they pretty?

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i washed them.

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i chopped them up and then threw them on the grill pan with some olive oil, salt and pepper.

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in the meantime, i seasoned the salmon filets with olive oil, salt and pepper. then i threw them in the oven for 15 minutes on 450f.

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next, i took some olive oil, balsamic vinegar and a tiny bit of italian seasoning, stirred it up and drizzled a spoonful over the bok choy before i served it.

this was a super quick, easy and healthy dinner. can’t wait to make it again! ta-da!

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salmon & grilled veggies

spicy pulled pork sandwiches

i love anything in a crock pot. i don’t cook a ton with pork so i thought I’d try my hand at some pulled pork and of course it has to be spicy. having something that lasts throughout the week is so helpful to be able to make a quick sandwich for lunch or after a long day.

bbq sandwich

ingredients:

  • 4 1/2lb pork shoulder or pork butt
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon season salt
  • 1 cup chicken stock
  • 2 cups of bbq sauce of choice (I chose franklin bbq sauce- a local austin fave)

directions:

  1. place pork and onion in slow cooker and set it to low for 6-8 hours.
  2. add all sauces and seasonings into a bowl and mix together.
  3. pour the bowl of seasonings and sauce over the pork and let it cook.
  4. after 6-8 hours, try shredding the pork to see if it is tender enough. if not, keep cooking.
  5. toast some hamburger buns or other bread of choice and serve with the shredded pork and a dollop of cole slaw for a yummy, crisp crunch.
  6. enjoy!
spicy pulled pork sandwiches