Monday, April 29, 2013

Hearty Chicken Soup - Canja de Galinha

I think one of my earliest memories of being in the kitchen, was with my greatgrandmother as she prepared chicken soup.

There was never a set recipe or rules as to how she would make it, usually it comprised of whatever she had on hand, so one day we might have rice, other day it might be noodles.  Sometimes it had carrots, other times it didn't.

And that is how I learned how to make this soup.  With a pinch of this, and a bunch of that.

Usually, if I have to cook chicken for a particular recipe, I always fix a batch of chicken soup.  It's one of the soups that my children adore and will eat copious amounts of.

For tonight's dinner, I needed to cook some chicken thighs, so I went ahead and fixed chicken soup for lunch.  So yummy!

Hearty Chicken Soup

Hearty Chicken Soup

Chicken (it really depends if you want a lot of chicken or just a bit, for this one I shredded two of the thighs)
1 small onion
1 bay leaf
1 chicken bouillon cube
1 garlic clove, sliced thinly
salt and pepper to taste
2 slices of bacon
Chourico, sliced (optional, I usually add it if I have it on hand)
Parsley (optional)
rice or pasta

I start by filling my pot about halfway with water, then I add in the chicken pieces, onion, bay leaf, chicken bouillon cube, garlic, salt and pepper and the bacon.

Simmer for about 30 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through.  Remove the chicken from the pot and set aside.

Dump in rice or pasta.  My kids couldn't decide which they preferred today so I added in both.   Depending on the amount of broth you have, adjust the amount of rice or pasta accordingly.  I had a full pot of broth so I added in half a cup of rice and about a cup of macaroni noodles.

Add in slices of chourico, if using.

Cook until the rice and pasta are done.  Remove the bacon with a slotted spoon, chop it into small pieces and add it back to the pot.  At this point you can remove the whole onion, or you can also go ahead and cut into smaller chunks and pop it back in.

Add shredded chicken, check the seasonings, drizzle with a little bit of olive oil, add in some chopped parsley and serve.

Hearty Chicken Soup

There really is nothing to this soup, but it's filling, and delicious :)

Sunday, April 21, 2013

English Muffins

English Muffins

I think my go to breakfast is usually a toasted English Muffin with butter, sometimes I will add a slice of cheese, or use them for breakfast sandwiches, for pizza for the kids lunch etc.  They are so versatile.

For the longest time I bought them, because.....well because it was easier that way, and it never had occurred to me that I could make them at home and have them turn out just as well.

English Muffins

A while ago I started researching English Muffin recipes, and came across so many different variations, so many different ways of cooking them.  Some call for using a cast iron skillet, some call for browning on a griddle and then moving them to the oven to finish baking, some use just the griddle....and then some, like the recipe I use cook on their own, while others use muffin pans and Alton Brown even used Tuna Cans.

I don't see the necessity of it, and that's why I went with this recipe to begin with.  I wanted it to be easy, I wanted it to not need any special baking tins or utensils.

English Muffins
English Muffins
Source: The Good housekeeping Illustrated Cookbook

2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp salt
2 1/4 tsp active dry yeast
about 5 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1/4 cup butter
1 egg
2 tbsp yellow cornmeal
vegetable oil

In a large bowl, combine sugar, salt, yeast and 1 1/2 cups of flour. In a saucepan over medium heat, heat milk and 1/4 cup of butter until very warm.
With mixer a low speed, gradually beat liquid into dry ingredients until just blended. Increase speed to medium; beat 2 minutes, occasionally scraping bowl with rubber spatula.
Gradually beat in egg and 1 cup flour or enough to make a thick batter; continue beating 2 minutes. With spoon, stir in enough additional flour (about 2 cups to make a stiff dough).

English Muffins

Turn dough onto lightly floured surface and knead just until well mixed, about 2 minutes. Shape dough into a ball and place in greased large bowl, turning dough over to grease top. Cover with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place, away from draft, until dough is doubled, about 1 1/2 hours.

English Muffins

Punch down dough. Turn dough onto lightly floured surface, cover with bowl for 15 minutes and let dough rest for easier shaping. Meanwhile, place cornmeal in a pie plate.

With lightly floured rolling pin, roll dough about 3/4 inch thick. With a 3 inch round cookie cutter, cut dough into circles. Re-roll scraps to make 18 circles in all.

English Muffins

Dip both sides of each circle in cornmeal; place coated circles about 1 inch apart on 2 cookie sheets. Cover cookie sheets with a tea towel and let rise in a warm place, away from draft, until doubled, about 45 minutes.

English Muffins

Lightly brush 12 inch skillet with vegetable oil. Over medium heat, heat skillet until hot.

English Muffins

Place 6 circles in skillet; cook 8 minutes on each side or until browned. Repeat with remaining circles. Cool muffins on wire rack. To store muffins for later use, wrap cooled muffins in plastic wrap or foil.

English Muffins

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Menu Plan - April 15 to April 30

I often get so caught up in the new recipes I want to try, that I forget that I have a stash of wonderful delicious old family favorites, right here on the blog.

As I was looking for a specific recipe a few days ago, I was scrolling back through the archives and noticed that so many of my older recipes needed updating.

They either don't have a photo to accompany the post, or there were bad quality, blurry photos taken with my very first digital camera and seriously need to be retaken.

It inspired me to stop, put aside the cookbooks and the bookmarked new recipes, and start from the beginning, so to speak.

For the next two weeks and for the foreseeable future, I will be making my menu plan by going back in time, remaking all the old recipes, not only in an attempt to bring them up to date, but also to enjoy some favorites that I had completely forgotten about :)

If you're looking for next recipes, you won't find them here for a while, but you WILL find some new to you meals (especially if you've never gone back in the archives), and who knows you may just come across a new favorite :)

Monday 15th
Cereal, milk, coffee
Beef Ramen Noodles, Fruit Salad
Sausage and Broccoli Skillet
Tuesday 16th

Breakfast: Cinnamon Toast, Juice
Lunch: *State testing for the kids, will grab something out*
Dinner: Ham and Cheese Chicken Rolls with Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Wednesday 17th
Breakfast: Pancakes, Coffee, Juice
Lunch: *State testing for the kids, will grab something out*
Dinner: Salisbury Steak with Rice

Thursday 18th

Breakfast: Oatmeal, milk
Lunch: *State testing for the kids, will grab something out*
Dinner: Chicken Egg Rolls, Salad

Friday 19th

Breakfast: Waffles with Vanilla Custard, Juice
Lunch: *State testing for the kids, will grab something out*
Dinner: Smothered Pork Chops with Noodles

Saturday 20th
Breakfast: Bacon, Eggs, Toast
Lunch: Chili Dogs
Dinner: Pepperoni Pizzaz with Garlic Bread

Sunday 21st
Breakfast: Toast, Scrambled Eggs, Coffee, Milk
Lunch: Chicken Nuggets, Mac and Cheese...salads for mom and dad
Dinner: Homemade Chourico Pizza

Monday 22nd
Breakfast: Grapefruit, Toast w/ peanut butter, Milk
Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches
Dinner: Chicken Ring with Salad

Tuesday 23rd
Breakfast: Pancakes, OJ
Lunch: Tuna Salad
Dinner: Bifes de Cebolada com Arroz (Portuguese Pepper Steaks with Rice)

Wednesday 24th
Breakfast: Oatmeal
Lunch: Philly Steak and Cheese Hot Pockets, Tater Tots
Dinner: Tortellini Alfredo

Thursday 25th
Breakfast: Chocolate Waffles, Juice
Lunch: Ham and Cheese Quesadillas
Dinner: Jasmine's Birthday...out to eat

 Friday 26th
Breakfast: Cinnamon Toast, Coffee, Milk
Lunch: Roast Beef Sandwiches, Veggie Sticks with Ranch
Dinner: Dad's Favorite Chicken with Homemade Fries

Saturday 27th
Breakfast: Sausage Biscuits, Hash Browns
Lunch: Ham and Cheese Sliders
Dinner: Baked Potato Soup with Red Lobster Cheddar Bay Biscuits

Sunday 28th
Breakfast: Toast, Scrambled Eggs, Bacon
Lunch: Chicago Dogs
Dinner: Mushroom Beef Stew with Homemade Noodles

Monday 29th
Breakfast: Cereal, Milk, Juice
Lunch: Chicken Ramen Noodles
Dinner: Deep Dish Sausage Pizza

Tuesday 30th
Breakfast: Blueberry Muffins
Lunch: Crab Salad
Dinner: Portuguese Pork Chops and Potatoes

Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Marshmallow Fondant

One thing that I've wanted to get into for quite a few years, is cake decorating.

Now I'm not talking about huge elaborate cakes to sell, but just the ability of being able to make something cute and themed for our birthdays.

The fondant has always scared me, it just intimidates me and I've been avoiding trying anything.  I think the fact that it is so expensive to buy, also puts me off, because since I'm starting out, I don't want to spend tons of money on something that won't look right or something I'm experimenting with.

Then I came across the Marshmallow Fondant from the Wilton site.  And I thought, that is IT, that's what I'm going to do.

Let me tell you, it's really easy to make, it's pretty inexpensive, only takes a few ingredients and it works wonderfully.

Marshmallow Fondant
Marshmallow Fondant

1 package (16 ounces) white mini marshmallows (use a good quality brand)
2-5 tablespoons water
2 pounds (about 8 cups) sifted confectioners' sugar
1/2 cup solid vegetable shortening


About 2 pounds marshmallow fondant.

To make marshmallow fondant, place marshmallows and 2 tablespoons of water in a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave 30 seconds on high; stir until mixed well. Continue microwaving 30 seconds more; stir again. Continue until melted (about 2 1/2 minutes).

Marshmallow Fondant

Place 3/4 of the confectioners' sugar on top of the melted marshmallow mixture. Fold sugar into marshmallow mixture. Flavoring can be added at this point if desired. Place solid vegetable shortening in easily accessed bowl so you can reach into it with fingers as you are working. Grease hands and counter GENEROUSLY; turn marshmallow mixture onto counter. Start kneading like you would dough. Continue kneading, adding additional confectioners' sugar and re-greasing hands and counter so the fondant doesn't stick. If the marshmallow fondant is tearing easily, it is too dry; add water (about 1/2 tablespoon at a time) kneading until fondant forms a firm, smooth elastic ball that will stretch without tearing, about 8 minutes.

It's best to allow Marshmallow Fondant to sit, double-wrapped, overnight. Prepare the fondant for storing by coating with a thin layer of solid vegetable shortening, wrap in plastic wrap and then place in resealable bag. Squeeze out as much air as possible. Marshmallow Fondant will keep well in refrigerator for several weeks.

When not working with fondant, make sure to keep it covered with plastic wrap or in a bag to prevent it from drying out. When ready to use, knead fondant until smooth. Roll out fondant 1/8 in. thick.

To color fondant: If you need to tint the entire batch of fondant, add a little icing color to the melted marshmallow mixture before adding confectioners' sugar. For smaller amounts of tinted fondant, add icing color to portions of fondant as needed.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

Hint Water

About a week ago, I was contacted on the blog's Facebook page, and asked if I would be interested in trying out the HINT water.

You all know how much I enjoy flavored waters, and there's nothing like foregoing all the sugars and other crud, for good ol plain water flavored with fresh fruit.

I immediately said yes, not only do I love flavored waters, but so do my kids and my husband.

Friday I got a package in the mail with some water to try.


My daughter and I immediately opened up the Fizz Waters and OH.MY.

But before I tell you about that....let me tell you a little more about Hint Water.

It was actually invented by a mom, just like me, who was experimenting with making flavored water at home, by adding fruit to it.

There is no added sugar, chemicals or sweeteners, with just a hint of natural fruit flavors like watermelon, tangerine pomegranate and peach.

Have you ever really thought about how much sugar is in an 8 ounce drink?

You can find Hint water online, or Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


The Fizz Blackberry and the Peach were DELICIOUS.  It was like drinking an actual blackberry or peach, that is how prevalent the flavor is, but with the added benefits of no sugar and additives....and with great refreshing bubbles.   I've always loved bubbly water.


My son loves Watermelon so he quickly claimed this one and he loved it too.  There's nothing greater than seeing your children chug down water instead of juices and sodas and sugary things.


There wasn't one single flavor that I didn't like, even the Mango-Grapefruit, which I thought at first may be a little bitter because of the Grapefruit, but nope, it was refreshing and really good.

Luckily I don't have to worry about Gluten Free or Vegan , but I know a lot of you out there do, so that's another great thing about the Hint water.  It's Vegan, Gluten Free, No MSG, No Preservatives....AND made in the USA.

If you're wanting to try some Hint water for yourself, go on over to the website and check out all the different flavors, there's even Cucumber and Honeydew-Hibiscus.  WOW!

You can also find the Hint water at retail stores like Jewel-Osco, Wegman's, Adronicos, Starbucks, Sprouts and Whole Foods, and many more.

If you love flavored water, you gotta give it a try, you won't be disappointed. 

Tuesday, April 02, 2013

Savory Beef with Egg Noodles

One of the meals my children most enjoy, is any kind of beef with gravy and served over noodles, rice or mashed potatoes.

They love it, they will have seconds, and I don't have to worry about any picky child refusing to eat.

It's one of those really easy meals to prepare but it tastes as if you've been cooking all day.

Another great recipe from one of my Taste of Home cookbooks.

Savory Beef and Noodles

1 pound ground beef
1 can (10-1/2 ounces) condensed French onion soup, undiluted
1/2 cup beef gravy
1 can (4 ounces) mushroom stems and pieces, drained
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon cold water
Hot cooked noodles
Minced fresh parsley, optional

In a large skillet, cook beef over medium heat until no longer pink; drain. Stir in the soup, gravy and mushrooms. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer for 5 minutes.
In a small bowl, combine flour and water until smooth; stir into beef mixture. Bring to a boil; cook and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Serve over hot cooked noodles. Garnish with fresh parsley if desired. Yield: 4 servings.


Bacon Swiss Garlic Bread

Ooooh I love a good cheesy garlic bread, but I also love really really love bacon.


Have been meaning to try this bread for a while but just never got around to it, until tonight.  I figured it was the perfect pairing to my Savory Beef over Noodles.

I made a big 20 inch french bread loaf, but froze half of it for another meal as it would be just too much for our family of 4.

Bacon and Swiss Garlic Bread
Adapted from:  Taste of Home

1 loaf (1 pound) French bread (20 inches)
2/3 cup butter or margarine, softened
1/3 cup chopped green onions
4 teaspoons prepared mustard
Garlic powder to taste
5 slices Swiss cheese
5 bacon strips

Cut bread into 1 inch slices, leaving slices attached at bottom.  In a bowl, combine butter, onions, mustard and garlic powder;  spread on both sides of each slice of bread.


Cut each slice of cheese diagonally into four triangles;  place between the slices of bread.  Cut bacon in half widthwise and then lengthwise;  drape a piece over each slice.


Place the loaf on a double thickness of heavy-duty foil.  Bake at 400 F for 20 to 25 minutes or until bacon is crisp.

Yield:  10 servings

If you're freezing for later, prepare as above, then wrap tightly in foil and freeze.  I don't know exactly how long it will last, I'm assuming as long as normal frozen garlic bread.  I will be using mine next week when I make another pasta dish so it won't sit in the freezer for too long.