Kill Two Soups With One Bird

Aaahhh…Autumn is finally here. I love when the cooler weather arrives. I could eat soup every night. Creamy soups are among my favorite. Soups are easy enough to make to serve a cup as a course before dinner or hearty enough to serve a bowl as the main dish. Add some crusty bread or your favorite crackers with cheese and you’ve got comfort food for the cold days that will be arriving soon.

I’m very frugal and don’t like to waste food when I don’t have to. One of my favorite cheats, when I don’t feel like cooking, is to buy a rotisserie chicken from the supermarket. We’ll have it for dinner with potato or macaroni salad and some sliced tomatoes or cucumbers; then I can usually carve off enough chicken to make chicken salad for lunch, too. That’s two super easy meals for busy days.

Next, not wanting to waste perfectly good bones, I’ll make a pot of chicken stock. There will be enough stock for a large batch of one kind of soup or two smaller batches. I prefer to make two kinds to have a variety throughout the week.

Mirepoix

A base for a good soup starts with mirepoix (pronounced meer-pwa). Mirepoix is basically a combination of aromatics, such as onions, celery, and carrots. It can be made by sautéing the vegetables in butter or olive oil or can be added raw to the other ingredients for your stock.

Frugal tip: Instead of composting or throwing away the ends of celery, onions, leeks, carrots, peppers or virtually any of your vegetables, try storing them in a bag in the freezer. Then you can just add them to your other ingredients when making stock.

Today I’m making two soups from one bird. First will be a basic chicken noodle soup. This soup turns out differently each time I make it due to the various vegetables and seasonings used in the stock. This recipe is just here as a guide. You can add whatever kind of vegetables you have and use your favorite seasonings or pasta shapes.

Flavor tip: Even after simmering your stock for hours, sometimes it may not be as flavorful as you would like. If your stock doesn’t seem to have much flavor, add a teaspoon of chicken bouillon. Add a little at a time until you get the flavor you want.

The second soup is a Sausage and Potato Soup. I originally wanted to make a creamy potato and leek soup. Traditionally, that type of soup is usually pureed. But, I was in the mood for a heartier soup with lots of chunks. Of course, I didn’t have to puree the soup, there are no rules that say it has to be pureed. After making the potato and leek soup, I thought it looked and tasted a little boring, so I decided to add some sausage, chicken and kale. Now we’re talking. This soup has all the chunks and pizzazz I was looking for.

Chicken Noodle Soup

A basic starter recipe for beginners. This easy soup recipe can be modified to make a variety of other soups.

Course Lunch, Main Course, Soup
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken, mirepoix, soup
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 3 hours
Total Time 3 hours 5 minutes
Servings 6 bowls
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

  • 1 chicken carcass
  • 1 cups onion diced
  • 1/2 cup celery diced
  • 1/2 cup carrots diced
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp black pepper
  • 1 tsp poultry seasoning
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 cup Stelline pasta or other small shaped pasta
  • 2 cups frozen mixed vegetables
  • water to cover all ingredients in pot

Instructions

  1. In a 5 quart pot, place the chicken carcass, onion, celery, carrots, and seasonings (see recipe note #1). Fill the pot about 2 inches from the top with water.

  2. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 3 hours. Periodically, check to make sure your liquid isn't boiling away.

  3. Strain the stock and set aside the chicken carcass to cool. (See Note # 2)

  4. Reserve 6 cups of stock for the Creamy Potato and Sausage Soup.

  5. Clean the chicken from the bones, chop to bite-sized pieces (reserve 1 cup for the Creamy Potato and Sausage Soup) and set aside. Discard the bones.

  6. Bring the remaining stock to a boil, add the pasta and frozen vegetables. Return to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer until pasta and vegetables are tender. Add the chicken.

Recipe Notes

Note #1 – Frugal tip: Instead of composting or throwing away the ends of celery, onions, leeks, carrots, peppers or virtually any of your vegetables, try storing them in a bag in the freezer. Then you can just add them to your other ingredients when making stock and save your fresh ingredients to add to the soup. 

Note #2 – Flavor tip: Even after simmering your stock for hours, sometimes it may not be as flavorful as you would like. If your stock doesn’t seem to have much flavor, add a teaspoon of chicken bouillon. Add a little at a time until you get the flavor you want.

 

Creamy Potato and Sausage Soup

This hearty soup is full of potatoes, leek, sausage, chicken and kale.

Course Appetizer, Dinner, Lunch
Cuisine American
Keyword chicken, kale, leek, potatoes, sausage, soup
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 40 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 8 bowls
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

  • 6 cups stock reserved from Chicken Noodle Recipe
  • 3 cups milk
  • 5 medium potatoes peeled and diced
  • 2 cups leek cleaned and sliced
  • 1/2 cup onion diced
  • 5 sausage links (I used mild, but any variety will work)
  • 12 tbsp butter divided
  • 3 – 4 tbsp olive oil divided
  • 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 cups kale (optional) remove stems from leaves
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • 1 cup chicken reserved from Chicken Noodle Recipe

Instructions

  1. Peel and dice the potatoes into bite-sized pieces.

  2. Set potatoes aside.

  3. Dice the onion and set aside with the potatoes.

  4. Prepare the sausage for removal of the casings by slicing each link lengthwise.

  5. Pull the casing off of the sausage. Set the sausage aside.

  6. If using kale, remove the tough stems and just use the leaves then chop into smaller pieces. (You can use the stems, but they would need to cook much longer to be edible.)

  7. Clean the leek. Remove and discard the long leaves and root (or freeze for future stock). Slice the remaining leek into long, thin strips or rings. Rinse thoroughly to remove any residual dirt. Dry on a clean towel or paper towels and pat dry. Set aside.

  8. Prepare a skillet over medium high heat to melt 4 tbsp butter with 2 tbsp olive oil.

  9. Add the potatoes to the skillet then stir until thoroughly coated.

  10. Add the onions, salt and pepper to the potatoes Stir and reduce heat to medium low.

  11. Stir the potatoes occasionally until they are browned and tender.

  12. In another skillet, over medium heat, add 2 tbsp of butter and a drizzle of olive oil. Add the leek and garlic then saute until the leek is tender. (5-10 minutes) Then set aside.

  13. Over medium high heat, crumble the sausage into bite-sized pieces.

  14. Stirring frequently, cook the sausage until thoroughly cooked through then drain and set aside.

  15. If using kale, reserve a couple teaspoons of the sausage fat and olive oil to saute the kale. This adds a little extra flavor to the kale. Saute kale until tender.

  16. In a 5 quart pot, make a roux by melting 4 tbsp butter and constantly whisking in a little flour at a time until you've added all of the 1/2 cup. Roux will be very thick.

  17. Gradually add the milk, whisking constantly. Gradually add the stock. Continue to whisk constantly.

  18. Finally, add the cooked potatoes, sausage, leek, kale, and chicken. Simmer until all ingredients are warm and broth has thickened.

Broth vs. Stock

Broth and stock can be used in place of each other in most recipes. Broth doesn’t need to cook as long as stock. Broth is a liquid made from meat and/or vegetables simmered for a short period of time.

Stock, however, is made using bones. In order to extract the gelatin from the bones, it will need to simmer for a longer period of time. You should simmer for at least three hours, but the longer the better.

As mentioned above, mirepoix will give your stock or broth a boost of flavor. But, adding seasonings will help as well. Try experimenting with fennel, garlic, and parsley, too.

What is your favorite soup? Tell me in the comments below.

Beef Stew Comfort Food For A Gloomy Day

Happy New Year. Welcome to 2019. The first day of a new year. A time for a fresh start. Beef Stew is on the menu today. Some of my readers have noticed that I haven’t been posting much lately. As you may recall, my mother was quite ill over the summer. I’m sad to report that she passed away just before Christmas. So, I thought I’d like to honor her memory and share some of my favorite dishes that she made. I awoke to snow, rain and wind this morning. It’s an overall gloomy, humdrum of a day, so it’s a perfect day for one of my favorite comfort foods.

Mother like Daughter…not exactly

My mother made the most excellent beef stew and her gravy was always perfect. It was never lumpy and always had the ideal consistency. I’ve never quite mastered gravy. It’s usually too thick or more likely, too thin because I’m afraid of the gravy becoming too thick, so I undercompensate with the flour or corn starch.

One thing I never quite understood was why she cooked all the components of the stew separately and then mixed them together. It always seemed like a lot of extra work and a lot more pots and pans to wash. Since I’ve been attempting to duplicate her stew, I’ve tried various methods. I’m not a fan of cooking in the crock pot, but in the case of stew, it does seem rather obvious that would be the easiest process.

Trials and errors…many errors

I’ve attempted to just throw all the ingredients in the crock pot, but after 8 hours the potatoes and carrots weren’t fully cooked. Plus, I didn’t like the texture of the beef…it was still quite tough. And the gravy was way too thin.

On the second attempt, I seared the beef before adding the meat to the crock pot and upped the slow cooking time to 12 hours. To my dismay, the carrots and potatoes still were undercooked. However, the meat was much more tender and we’re on our way to a win on the gravy.

Well, I was determined, and on my third try, I started it the night before and let the crock pot go for 16 hours. Finally, it turned out pretty good, but I came to realization that it is really quite ridiculous to cook anything for 16 hours. 16 hours…No wonder my mom didn’t like using the crock pot. I eventually chalked it up to the crock pot not working at its peak performance and thought I would buy a new one before I experimented again.

Some Christmas Wishes Do Come True

I have a very generous friend who always gives the best gifts. She is thoughtful and apparently remembers everything you tell her. One day I mentioned in passing about my 16 hour beef stew and we had a little laugh over it. Well, wouldn’t you know, she got me a crock pot for Christmas. It really made my day and my next experiment of beef stew only took 5 hours in the crock pot.

I may be starting to warm up to the idea of experimenting with other recipes in the crock pot. Stay tuned.

Beef Stew

This comfort food has onions, celery, carrots, potatoes, stew beef and gravy. Chop the vegetables to your desired size. The smaller the chop of celery and onions, the more likely they’ll cook away. If you like a heartier stew, leave the pieces large. Either way, they’ll add a wonderful flavor to your stew.

Course Dinner
Keyword Stew
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 5 hours
Cooling time 1 hour
Total Time 5 hours 20 minutes
Servings 8
Author Lisa York

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds stew beef
  • 1 tbsp kosher salt
  • 2 tsp black pepper
  • 2 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 medium onion chopped to desired size
  • 1 cup celery chopped to desired size
  • 1 pound baby carrots
  • 5 large potatoes chopped to bite size pieces
  • 8 cups beef broth
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce

Instructions

  1. Season the stew beef with salt, pepper and garlic powder.

    Beef Stew seasoned beef
  2. Chop the onion to desired size and layer on the bottom of the crock pot. (The order of the vegetables doesn’t really matter, but the vegetables should be at the bottom and the meat should be on top.) 

    Beef Stew onions
  3. Chop the celery to desired size and layer over the onions.

    Beef Stew celery
  4. Add the baby carrots.

    Beef Stew carrots
  5. Chop the potatoes to bite size pieces and add a layer to cover the carrots. You may need more than 5 potatoes depending on size.

    Beef Stew potatoes
  6. In a skillet, over high heat, melt the better and add the olive oil.

    Beef Stew prepared pan with oil and butter
  7. Add small amounts of the stew beef to the hot skillet, turn the pieces to sear each side. Be careful not to overcrowd the pan with the beef otherwise you’ll steam the beef instead of sear it. Searing the beef will lock in the juices and help the meat become tender during the slow cooking process.

    Beef Stew searing beef
  8. Remove the seared beef from the pan and set aside.

    Beef Stew seared beef
  9. Add a cup of the beef broth to the skillet to deglaze the juices and random pieces of beef from the pan. Pour the juices and broth over the vegetables in the crock pot.

    Beef Stew deglaze pan and add to crock pot
  10. Add one cup of flour to the seared stew beef.

    Beef Stew added flour to beef
  11. Stir the beef until each piece is well-coated with flour. The flour will thicken the broth while it cooks. 

    Beef Stew beef coated with flour
  12. Add the flour-coated beef to the crock pot. 

    Beef Stew beef coated with flour added to crock pot
  13. Add the remaining beef broth to the crock pot.

    Beef Stew added beef broth
  14. Be sure to cover all the ingredients in the crock pot. Add the Worcestershire sauce and bay leaves. Resist the urge to stir the pot. It’s best to keep the vegetables at the bottom of the crock pot where it will be the hottest.

    Beef Stew added beef broth to cover all ingredients
  15. Cook on high for 5 hours or low for 8 hours . Turn off approximately 1 hour prior to serving. The stew will remain hot, but the gravy will continue to thicken. Stir prior to serving. (Cooking times may vary depending on manufacturer make and model.) 

    Beef Stew cook on high

What’s your favorite kitchen gadget or appliance that you got for Christmas? Tell me in the comments below and don’t forget to follow me on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest by clicking on the links provided.

Classic Potato Salad – A Summertime Standard

With summertime BBQ season upon us, what is the best side dish to bring to the party? Potato salad, of course. There are so many variations of potato salad out there, but I prefer the classic American, creamy, potato salad. My grandmother made this recipe, then my mother made this recipe, so naturally, I make this recipe, too. I do not have children to take over the recipe, so I hope someone else finds it and makes it a tradition in their family, too.

In my opinion, the star of the show is the dressing. The dressing is where the flavor is packed. Adding different toppings, such as bacon crumbles or hard-boiled eggs are delightful, too. But, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t care about what type of potato to use in your salad. Pick the wrong potato and they could end up getting smooshed during mixing when you add your dressing. Then you’re left with mashed potatoes with mayonnaise.

TUBER OR NOT TUBER?

Yes. A potato is a tuber, specifically a stem tuber. A stem tuber is basically an enlarged structure of the plant where it stores its nutrients it will need for winter and for regrowth. In order to pick out the right kind for your dish, you’ll need to know a few things. Essentially, there are three categories of potatoes based on their texture. Starchy, All-Purpose, and Waxy. Potato salads need potatoes that will hold their shape after cooking. So, understanding what happens during the cooking process will help when making your selection.

Starchy potatoes, such as Russets are good for baking, mashing or French fries. The highly dense starch cells swell and separate from one another when cooked which give these potato items a fluffy texture.

Waxy potatoes, such as Red Bliss, have the least starch, so there is less cell separation and are best for boiling, stews, and salads. There is less breakdown, so these potatoes will hold their shape very well.

All-purpose potatoes, such as Yukon Gold, have a moderate amount of starch and are ideal for au gratins, roasting or steaming. As the name implies, they can also be used for any purpose, but just note that your results may vary slightly.

Potato Salad

The creamy, classic American potato salad. 

Course Side Dish
Cuisine American
Keyword Potato Salad
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Cooling time 30 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 4 pounds Red Bliss potatoes
  • 2 tbsp salt for potato water
  • 1/4 cup vinegar
  • 1/4 cup Splenda or sugar
  • salt and pepper to taste for dressing
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup sour cream
  • 1 1/2 cups mayonaisse
  • 1/4 cup diced onion
  • 1/4 cup diced celery

Instructions

  1. Scrub potato skins then cut into bite-size cubes.

    Potato Salad
  2. Place in a large pot, cover with cold water, add 2 tbsp of salt to the water. Cover the pot with a lid. 

  3. Over high heat, bring to a boil. Remove lid, lower temperature to medium/high heat and continue a slow boil for 8-12 minutes or until the potatoes are fork-tender. 

  4. Drain the liquid from the potatoes and allow to cool for at least 30 minutes. (Spreading them out over a cookie sheet will speed up the cooling process.)

  5. In a large bowl, add the vinegar, Splenda, salt, pepper, milk, and sour cream.

  6. Add the mayonaisse, a little at a time until the dressing reaches the desired thickness. 

    Potato Salad Dressing
  7. Add the celery and onions.

  8. Once the potatoes have cooled completely, add them to the dressing and lightly toss the dressing to coat the potatoes. 

    Potato Salad 3

Recipe Notes

I use Splenda instead of sugar because I have diabetics in my family and try not to use sugar where it doesn't make a difference to the outcome of the dish. It also dissolves a lot quicker than sugar. But, sugar absolutely works too.  

What is your favorite summertime side dish? Let me know in the comments below.

 

 

 

 

Buttermilk Ranch Potatoes Au Gratin

It’s Easter time. I love this time of year. The weather is getting warmer and even though it is officially Spring, we still have about 6 inches of snow on the ground. Not to mention piles of immeasurable snow that will probably take until May to melt. But, the days are getting longer. The sun is shining and there are many blessings to celebrate. Which leads me to Easter dinner. This easy Easter side dish, Buttermilk Ranch Potatoes Au Gratin are an excellent companion to your ham or pork roast.

Do you have a big family dinner on Easter? Do you dread when you have to bring a side dish to a family gathering? Well, here is a side dish that will be a star at any dinner gathering, not just on Easter, but anytime of the year. Scalloped or au gratins can tend to be a bit bland, so I like to add some seasonings that add a little zing to the dish. It quickly became a favorite in my household and among friends. This dish goes well in place of mashed potatoes with any meal. It’s easy to prepare and travels well if you need a dish to take with you. It reheats in just a few minutes, so it’s a good choice to make ahead, too.

Buttermilk Ranch Potatoes Au Gratin

This easy to make side dish is easy to take along for a potluck or other gathering. It could serve as a meal by itself. It's full of flavor and the buttermilk and cheese make it extra creamy too.

Course Casserole, Side Dish
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 45 minutes
Resting time 10 minutes
Total Time 1 hour
Servings 12
Author Lisa

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds potatoes
  • 3 tbsp butter
  • 1 tbsp dried parsley
  • 1 tsp dried dill
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 2 tsp dried onion flakes
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1 tsp chives
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 3 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 3 cup cheddar cheese divided

Instructions

  1. Scrub the potatoes. It is not necessary to peel them unless you don't like the peel. 

    Buttermilk Ranch Potatoes Au Gratin ingredients
  2. Slice the potatoes approximately 1/4 inch thick. I prefer using a mandolin over a knife because you get a more uniform thickness. Place the sliced potatoes in a pot and cover with water. Heat over medium/high heat until the water starts to boil. Reduce heat to medium/low and continue to cook for 5 minutes. Drain the water and set aside to cool.
    Buttermilk Ranch Potatoes Au Gratin sliced
  3. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

  4. In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium/low heat. Add the next 8 ingredients (all the dry ingredients). Stir until the ingredients are well blended and a small ball of dough is formed. Gradually add the buttermilk, stirring constantly. Be careful not to bring the buttermilk to a boil as it could curdle. Heat the mixture over medium/low heat until it is warm enough to melt the cheese. Add two cups of cheese and continue to heat the mixture until the cheese has melted and is well blended. (Reserve the remaining cheese for topping the casserole.)

  5. Grease the bottom and sides of a casserole dish. (This should make a 4 layer casserole, so you may want to roughly divide the potatoes into 4 portions before starting so you don't have a thicker layer at the top.) Start layering the potatoes so that they overlap until the bottom of the dish is completely covered with potatoes. Spoon 1/3 of the cheese sauce over the layer of potatoes and carefully spread the sauce until they are well covered. Next, cover the sauce with another layer of potatoes, then more sauce. After your third layer of sauce, layer the last of the potatoes then sprinkle the remaining shredded cheese on top. 

    Buttermilk Ranch Potatoes Au Gratin layering
  6. Bake, uncovered, for approximately 30 to 35 minutes until the sauce is bubbling and is starting to brown. 

What are your Easter dinner traditions? Please comment below. I’d love to hear your home cooking experiences.