QUICK AND EASY CHICKEN NOODLE SOUP (Serves 6)
This is a great soup, any time of the year, and you can make it in about 30 minutes with the cook time. Great with sandwiches or as a much-needed pick me up.
1 tablespoon butter
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup chopped celery
2 (14.5 ounces) cans chicken broth
1.5 tablespoons of “Better than Chicken Bouillon” with 32 ounces of boiling water*
1 (14.5 ounces) can of vegetable broth
½ pound chopped cooked chicken breast. Consider using a cooked rotisserie chicken and just cut up the meat!
1.5 cups thin egg noodles
1 cup chopped carrots
½ teaspoon dried basil
½ teaspoon dried oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
In a large pot over medium heat, melt butter. Cook onion and celery in butter until just tender, about 5 minutes. Pour in chicken and vegetable broths and stir in chicken, noodles, carrots, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer 20 minutes before serving.
* I substitute this for two cans of the regular chicken broth as it really strengthens the flavor of the broth. I find the regular chicken broth just too weak tasting. It’s a bit more expensive but well worth it.
QUICK CARAMEL FROSTING (Serves lots)
I may be passionate about chocolate, but this has to be my favorite frosting of all time. My mom passed along the recipe many years ago since it was the frosting she always used on my birthday cake (German chocolate cake) every August. Who has time to caramelize sugar in a cast-iron skillet the way my grandmother used to do. I don’t think adding brown sugar to the recipe sacrifices the flavor at all. Use this frosting on everything!
8 tablespoons butter (yes, that’s one stick!)
½ cup packed light brown sugar
½ cup packed dark brown sugar (Splenda brown sugar is a great replacement)
¼ cup milk
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Combine the butter and brown sugars in a heavy medium-sized saucepan over a medium heat. Cook, stirring until the mixture comes to a boil, about 2 minutes.
2. Add milk, stir, and let the mixture return to a boil, then remove the pan from the heat.
3. Add about 1.25 cups of the confectioners’ sugar and the vanilla. Beat with a wooden spoon or whisk until the frosting is smooth. Add rest of the confectioners’ sugar, but be sure it doesn’t thicken too much and harden.
4. Ladle the frosting over the cake layers while it is still warm, working quickly as it will set up fast. If the frosting hardens too soon, place the saucepan back over low heat and stir in a tablespoon or two of milk.
What a nice, cool salsa for the summer. Tangy and sweet at the same time. It’s great with chips or served over pork or chicken. Another idea for doing something with all those raspberries you just picked!
2 cups fresh raspberries
¼ cup chopped sweet onion
3 teaspoons finely chopped jalapeno chili peppers
1 clove minced garlic
¼ cup chopped cilantro
½ teaspoon white sugar
3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients.
Cover and chill in the refrigerator at least 1 hour before serving.
Summer fruit is just the best, so I thought I would give you a quick recipe that uses some of my favorite fruits. This dressing is great over a salad of Bibb lettuce and Arugula. What could be better!
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon honey
Combine all of the ingredients in a blender and blend until smooth. Season with salt and pepper to taste. A little bit of sweet and a little bit of tart. Serve over a salad of Bibb lettuce and Arugula and top with toasted pumpkin seeds if you are looking for a real treat.
REALLY GOOD GAZPACHO -- (Serves 8-10)
Gazpacho is high summer in a bowl. This ice-cold, uncooked vegetable soup, made primarily of tomatoes, cucumbers, bell peppers, and onions and seasoned with olive oil and vinegar, is sometimes referred to as “liquid salad” in its native Spain. A cool, refreshing treat that is sure to delight everyone’s taste buds and give you a break from cooking over a hot stove during the summer heat. Enjoy!
3 ripe medium beefsteak tomatoes (about 1 ½ pounds), cored and cut into ¼ inch cubes
2 small red bell peppers (about 1 pound), cored, seeded, and cut into ¼ inch cubes
2 small cucumbers (about 1 pound), one peeled and the other with skin on, both seeded and cut into ¼ inch cubes
½ small red Vidalia onion, peeled and minced (about ½ cup)
2 medium garlic cloves, minced
2 teaspoons salt
1/3 cup sherry vinegar (substitute with white wine vinegar if can’t find)
Ground black pepper
5 cups Welch’s tomato juice
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
8 ice cubes
Extra-virgin olive oil for serving
Combine tomatoes and their juices, bell peppers, cucumbers, onion, garlic, salt, vinegar, and pepper to taste in a large (at least 4 quarts) nonreactive bowl; let stand until vegetables just begin to release their juices, about 5 minutes. Stir in tomato juice, hot pepper sauce, and ice cubes; cover tightly and refrigerate to blend flavors – at least 4 hours. Adjust seasonings with salt and pepper, remove and discard any unmelted ice cubes, and serve ice cold. Drizzle each portion with about 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil and garnish with croutons or extra raw, cut vegetables.
REALLY GOOD CHOCOLATE FUDGE
My husband is a teacher, and for many years I have made up containers of fudge for him to bring to various colleagues at work to celebrate the holiday season. This fudge is yummy! I know there are quick fudge recipes out there, but this recipe is well worth the extra effort. Be sure to beat the fudge for the exact time called for or it will become too hard to spread in the pan.
2/3 cup half and half
1/3 cup light corn syrup
2 cups sugar
2 ounces good quality unsweetened chocolate
½ stick (4 tablespoons) unsalted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts
Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
Combine the half and half, corn syrup, and sugar in a medium-size heavy saucepan and still well. Add chocolate and place over low heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until the sugar has dissolved and the chocolate has melted.
Continue cooking until the mixture begins to boil. Place a candy thermometer in the saucepan, raise the heat slightly, and continue cooking, without stirring, until the temperature reaches 238 degrees (soft boil point).
Remove the pan from the heat and add the butter. With the thermometer still in the saucepan, set the pan aside in a cool place until the temperature has lowered to 150 degrees, about 15-20 minutes. Remove the thermometer.
Add the vanilla and beat with a wooden spoon until the chocolate mixture begins to lose its sheen and lightens slightly – 1 ½ minutes. Then add the walnuts and beat another 30 seconds
Working very quickly, transfer the mixture into the pan and smooth it out to the edges with a rubber spatula. Using a sharp knife, cut the fudge into 16 pieces. Let it cool completely in the pan before serving.
ROASTED PORK TENDERLOIN (Serves 6)
Get maximum flavor with almost no effort. Just crank up the oven and enjoy a mouth-watering meal.
2 large cloves of garlic
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
1 teaspoon dried sage
¼ teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 trimmed pork tenderloins (about 1 pound each), at room temperature
Position a rack near the bottom of the oven and preheat to 500 degrees.
Mince together the garlic, salt, sage, and pepper. In a small bowl combine with the oil.
Rub all over the meat and place the tenderloins side by side but not touching in the smallest roasting pan that will hold them. Roast for 10 minutes. Flip over and roast again until the internal temperature registers 155 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 8 minutes more.
Let rest for about 10 minutes (the internal temperature should reach about 160 degrees). Slice into ½-inch thick slices.
ROOT BEER CARROTS (Serves 4-6)
One 12 ounce bottle of root beer
1/3 cup light brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ teaspoon ground cumin
½ teaspoon ground cloves
½ teaspoon coarse salt
2 pounds peeled baby carrots
2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
In a large skillet, bring ½ cup water, the root beer, sugar, cinnamon, cumin, cloves, and salt to a boil. Add the carrots. Return to a boil, cover, and cook for 5 minutes. Uncover and boil until tender, stirring occasionally, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the thyme. Using a slotted spoon, place the carrots in a serving bowl.