Chicken Soup for the Soul

Have I told you that the teenage munchkin is “fasting”?  Actually, maybe I’m not supposed to be talking about it but she didn’t tell me NOT to and she should know that nothing is sacred unless specifically stated!  lol  She’s fasting because she wants to show God that she’s open to sacrificing for him the way Jesus did for our sins (her words).  She tells me that she wants to be open to receiving HIS wishes for her life.  She does NOT get this from me.  I’ve never really been a disciplined person and I’m ashamed that I’m the one who believes that God can’t see me sneak that cookie or piece of candy.  Julia isn’t fasting for just a day.  She’s been only eating non processed foods for 2 weeks now.  Mostly she eats boiled eggs and raw vegetables and fruits.  Every day, I try to cook her fish but she can have VERY little salt so everything tastes bland.  I’m proud of her though because, for the most part, she’s not trying to argue about what kind of food she can have.  Yesterday, she kind of pushed the ticket.  She’d forgotten that she told me she couldn’t eat pasta because it was a starch.  So NO starches, right?  She thought I wouldn’t notice when she started frying potatoes and green peppers last night!  lol  Her reasoning?  Potatoes are a vegetable grown from the ground and so were green peppers.  What about the starch thing, Julia?  Oh THIS starch is okay, I’m SURE of it.  What about the fact that potatoes really don’t have nutritional value and you’re eating them in order to feel full?  Oh that’s okay too.  God will understand.  Well OKAY then.  I guess the rules change when you’re really hungry?

Today I’m making her some of Paula Deen’s chicken rice soup.  There’s NOTHING in this soup that she CAN’T have and since it’s cold and snowy AND she’s working hard painting and cleaning, it just FEELS like a soup kind of day.  Everything comes from God’s earth and the chicken is even healthy, right?  This will be the only time in the past 2 weeks that she’s eaten chicken though.  She tells me that this is like a 5 star meal for her!  And then I reminded her about those fried potatoes last night.  Was that like a 4 star meal?  lol

By now you know that I get my recipes from SOMEWHERE.  Lately it’s bee from the great Paula Deen.    However, I rarely stick to a recipe.  This one is revised by me but comes mostly from her.  Everyone’s got their own way of doing chicken soup.  Soup is just one of those foods that you can’t mess up PLUS it’s good for what ails you!  If you feel bad physically or emotionally, I PROMISE you’ll feel better after a great big bowl of this!

Cure – All Chicken Rice Soup

Ingredients:

1 whole chicken, cut up, rinsed and patted dry (mine was 5.5 lbs)

6 celery stalks, washed (use with the green leaves)

6 large carrots chopped into coins

2 lrg Vidalia onions (halved through the root end)

6 cloves garlic (minced)

2 tsp dried thyme

4 bay leaves

5 tsp salt

2 chicken bouillon cubes

2 tsp black pepper

2 tsp tarragon (dried)

2 cups long grain white rice

2/3 cups chopped fresh parsley

Directions:

In a large stockpot, combine chicken, 12 cups water, celery, carrots, onion, garlic, bay leaves, salt, black pepper, tarragon and thyme.  Bring to a boil over high heat.  Reduce to a simmer and cook until the chicken is cooked through (around an hour).

Remove the chicken and carrots from stockpot and set aside.  Strain the remaining liquid and discard the solids.  Return the strained broth to the pot, stir in rice and bring to a gentle simmer, cook until the rice is tender about 15 to 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, once the chicken is cool enough to handle, pick meat off the bones, discarding skin and bones.  Return the chicken and carrots to the pot.  Simmer for another 5 minutes.  Adjust seasoning and stir in parsley right before serving.

*The bones make the soup!  You can always use boneless chicken breast.  I do if that’s all I have on hand but if you want REALLY good soup, full of flavor, you’ll want to use chicken on the bone.

*This recipe is a double batch.  It will serve 12-18 people generously.  I always double recipes because I can freeze a batch for later.  It saves time and money 🙂  Enjoy!

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Paula Deen’s Old Fashioned Creamed Chicken

During my stay in Columbia, waiting for my Dad to recover from surgery, the step mom and I were able to get away and have dinner at Cracker Barrel.  I’m not a HUGE fan of their food but I DO love to shop in their little country store!  lol  I know, by now, I’ve GOT to be boring you with all my bragging about the large collection of cookbooks I’ve acquired through the years, but they make me happy so I purchased just “1 more”.  You’ve also heard me mention, on more than one occasion, my adoration of the great Southern Lady, Paula Deen.  It’s strange that I’ve never owned one of HER cookbooks.  I fixed that though, this weekend!  I purchased, Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible published by Simon and Schuster.  This reads like a book with all her stories.  The recipes are easy to follow and I love hearing about her Southern life!  I HIGHLY recommend purchasing this book, if you’re in to that sort of thing 😉

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So yesterday, Sunday, was my first day back home and, once again, I didn’t feel like cooking but necessity called. I had 3 chicken breasts in the freezer and not much else.  I also had a friend and her 20 year old son spending the day with us.  Bryar, the 20 year old, doesn’t like a lot of “different” food and he won’t even try many people’s cooking.  I guess I should feel blessed because MY cooking is something he’ll at least TRY.  lol  This recipe was a complete hit with everybody, even Bryar.  He told me that I didn’t make NEARLY enough!  I was thrilled to be able to stretch 3 chicken breasts enough to feed 5 of us!  The great Paula Deen came through for me once more 🙂  God, I love that lady!  lol

Here’s what I made:

Old Fashioned Creamed Chicken over Rice

Ingredients:

1 TBSP butter

1 TBSP all purpose flour

1/2 cup chicken broth (I used the broth from boiling the chicken breasts)

1/2 cup half and half (I used heavy cream because that’s what I had on hand)

1 TBSP dry sherry (I used white zinfindel because that’s all I had)

2 cups chopped or shredded chicken breasts (I used all 3 breasts – about 6 cups)

1/2 tsp dried thyme (i used more)

salt and pepper to taste

1 to 2 TBSP chopped fresh parsley or green scallions for garnish (optional)

*Recipe as written will serve 4 people.  It’s intended for use with leftover chicken but I had to triple the recipe and STILL didn’t have enough to serve 5 of us.  I served this over rice.  It was so good they couldn’t stop eating!  lol

Directions:

  1. in a heavy saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat.  Whisk in the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until bubbling, about 1 minute.  Whisk in the broth, half and half and sherry.  Bring to a boil, whisking frequently.  Reduce to a simmer and cook, stirring until nice and thick, 3 to 5 minutes.
  2. Stir in the chicken, thyme, and salt and pepper to taste, and warm through.  Serve over rice, noodles or potatoes, garnished with parsley or scallions.

*Paula suggests this recipe is good served in frozen, baked pastry shells or homemade biscuits or cornbread.

Rosemary Chicken, a one dish wonder!

As I’ve mentioned before, I have a collection of cookbooks that come in handy on my “uninspired” days.  The cook book I pulled out today is, “A Skillet Full”, of Traditional Southern LODGE Cast Iron Recipes and Memories.  I LOVE using this book, in part because I bought it on one of my many trips to The Great Smoky Mountains at an old mill and restaurant called, simply, “The Old Mill” in Pigeon Forge Tennessee (you know, the home of Dolly Parton, right?).  I’ve told everyone that if I was ever going to move from my home, it would be to the Smoky Mountains.  Being there takes me to a place that FEELS like home to me.  I can picture an old grandma, sitting in her rocking chair, snapping green beans, fresh from her garden and I just want to BE that grandma.  Back to the cook book…. these recipes just work.  They’re designed to use with cast iron cookware.

Here’s the one I’ll be using today.  The flavor is TO DIE FOR, with the smoky bacon, the onions and wine sauce.  You’ll thank me for this later 😉  I love that it’s easy and all done in one pan!

Chicken Rosemary

Ingredients

6 slices raw bacon

3 pounds chicken pieces (*I’ve always used boneless, skinless breasts)

4-6 potatoes, peeled and quartered

1 cup sliced green peppers

1 cup sliced mushrooms (optional)

2 cups sliced onions (I use 1 large sweet onion, sliced in rings)

1/2 tsp dried crushed rosemary (I use 1 tsp)

1 bay leaf

Salt and Pepper to taste  (I ALWAYS season the chicken itself before placing in the pan)

1 large tomato, sliced  (I’m using a can of diced tomatoes, drained)

1 cup white wine

Directions

Preheat oven to 375 F.  Layer ingredients in Dutch oven in the order given.  Cover.  Bake 1 1/2 hours until done (chicken will be fork tender).  Spoon wine sauce over all before serving.

(pictured: cast iron Dutch oven)

The one I use is from Ben’s great Grandma and it’s over 100 years old!

**My notes:  I have used a regular 9×13 glass casserole dish and covered with foil when I’ve doubled the recipe (because it won’t fit in my cast iron Dutch oven if doubled).  It works great too, you just have to cook a little longer.  BUT, I always prefer cast iron because the evenness of the cooking.

Individual Amish Beef Potpies

I’m feeling a little under the weather right now, be that as it may, dinner still has to be made, right?  I mean, if we want to eat, that is.  So what do I do when my heart isn’t really in it?  All I know is that I have a package of ground beef and I’m pretty disappointed with the recipes on Pinterest lately… SO I dug out one of the 100,000 cookbooks (yes, I collect cook books the way I collect shoes!).  This recipe comes from The Homestyle Amish Kitchen Cookbook, Harvest House Publishers.  I grabbed my daughter and we went to work making:

Individual Beef Potpies

1 beef bouillon cube

2 cups boiling water

3 1/2 cups cooked beef or cooked hamburger (*I used 1 1/2 lb ground beef)

2 tsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tsp salt (*I used 2 tsp)

1 tsp sugar

1/2 tsp paprika

1/4 tsp pepper

1 package frozen mixed vegetables (*I used California Blend – Green Giant)

1/4 cup flour

pastry (see below)

Dissolve the bouillon cube in the 2 cups boiling water and add the beef, Worcestershire sauce, salt, sugar, paprika, and pepper.  Add the frozen vegetables and cook mixture for 5 minutes.  Combine the flour with enough water to make a thin paste and slowly add it into the meat and vegetable mixture.  Continue stirring and cooking until mixture thickens.  Keep warm.  When you have made the pastry, spoon the meat and vegetable mixture into 6 individual oven-proof custard cups or ramekins that are 6 to 8 ounces each.  Do not overfill (like I did!  lol)

Pastry

1 cup flour

1/2 cup cornmeal

3/4 tsp salt

1/3 cup shortening

4 TBSP cold water (I had to use about 8 TBSP)

Sift together the flour, cornmeal and salt.  Cut in the shortening with a pastry blender or fork until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs.  Sprinkle the water by tablespoonfuls over the mixture and stir lightly with a fork until just damp.  Then, using your hands, work dough gently and as little as possible until the dough holds together and forms a ball.  You might need to add a bit more cold water.

Divide dough into 6 parts and roll each to form a ball large enough to fit over the top of the meat and vegetables in each baking cup.  (Julia and I patted them kind of flat like you’d do if you were making hamburger patties).  Turn under and crimp edges.  Make several cuts (or make a cross) in the pastry to allow steam to escape while baking.

Bake at 450 for 12-14 minutes