Vanilla is one of those baseline flavors where if vanilla isn’t good, nothing else will be either. It is also the flavor that can get dressed up by nearly any ice cream topping or syrup, easily be added to a warm piece of pie, or…
Tag: mommy blogger
I am pretty sure Rachael Ray has told her audiences time and time again, buying a whole chicken can help your dollar go further at the grocery store. Today I want to show you a super delicious, budget friendly, incredibly easy Chicken Stock recipe using ingredients that you may have previously thought of as scraps. (Spoiler alert: basically you boil bones for a realllllly long time!)
Ultimately, the only items you really need are chicken bones, salt, water, your biggest kettle, and steady heat for a long time. These items are the staple of the recipe, and how my mom taught me to make stock when I was growing up. Thru the years, I have played around with other items to add. My husband can attest to the number of broths I have made him taste!
I have found that the addition of an old onion, the starting-to-sprout garlic and the ugly, kind of soft, forgotten carrots from your fridge do wonders in added flavor here. As a bonus-this is a fantastic use-up recipe for these odd veggies before they go bad! I also prefer to use whole peppercorns and bundled stalks of fresh herbs (thyme and parsley) in my broth because the pieces can be strained out after the boil once they have infused their flavors into the broth.
When making broth, I always find the best outcome results when I am using the scraps of at least two whole chickens (three is preferable). I use the bones, extra skin, and any weird parts that come in that pouch sometimes inside the whole chicken. I use the scraps of rotisserie chickens and chickens I have cooked. I keep the drumstick bones if I bought those separately as well as the backbone when I make spatchcock chickens-check back soon for that recipe!
Short story: if it is chicken or chicken scrap of raw or baked chicken, you can save it to use for stock.
I find that freezing the bones in a baggie of water is the most efficient way to save them. This helps protect the bones from freezer burn while I amass the two to three chickens worth of scraps needed for stock. You can see the difference in the pictures above: the bones on the bottom of the pot (right) were the ones better protected from freezer burn by adding water into the zip lock baggie before freezing (left).
The prep for the ‘extra’ ingredients is very basic and these items are so flexible when considering quantities (See the notes below for a few of my well tried suggestions). I simply remove the flaky parts of the onion and garlic (don’t worry about a little bit of the papery skin still attached) and half/quarter. On the onion, I find it is easiest to strain out when you keep the root attached-see bottom right picture just above. I like to peel the carrots, but as long as you make sure the outsides are super clean, peeling is optional. The herbs are fresh from my summer garden, and I simply like to tie them in small bunches so they stay together. When I don’t have fresh herbs available, I take about a tablespoon of dry thyme and parsley and tie it in a cheesecloth wrapping.
Once everything is ready, add it ALL into the same pot! Then add water to almost fill the pot, add a lid, and turn the heat onto a medium low.
I am using an 8 qt multi pot for this job. The ‘multi’ is really just a stock pot with the extra strainer piece. I find it especially great for stock making because ultimately all of the chicken/veggies/herbs will be strained out and this does the bulk of that work all at once. Seriously though, this stock pot is one of the my favorite wedding gifts!
Now you wait and check on the concoction every now and again. I like to keep the stock at a simmer, meaning there is a bit of movement and small bubbles but it is not a full roaring boil. I would recommend you let this mix do its thing for at least 6 hours, but I usually let it go for 8-10 hours at a time. The above picture was taken at one hour simmering.
The only way you will know your stock is ready is by tasting it. I do this allllllll afternoon when making stock. I cannot resist! The process makes my entire house smell absolutely wonderful! You will likely need to check on the water level and add more due to evaporation. You want to keep a good amout of liquid because it is a long cook time to get as much flavor from your scraps as possible!
If needed, you can also add a pinch more salt, but not until it has been simmering for many hours and seems almost ready!
The above picture shows my stock after a nine and a half hours simmering! You can see how the color has changed from starting with water, to being still translucent at hour one, to being opaque at hour nine! (Plus the other shows off the usefulness of my multi pot by removing the big pieces all at once)
Once you have the big pieces of chicken and veggies out of the mix, I highly recommend using a sieve (aka a fine mesh strainer) to get the little bits out also-see above right picture…eww. It isn’t that those pieces are inedible, but I always have a fear of missing a small bone or piece of cartilage if I don’t strain it.
Once strained, your broth is ready to immediately make a super yummy soup, sooth a scratchy throat, break a period of fasting, or add to any variety of recipes!
My favorite way of saving my freshly made broth is to label and freeze it. I have a super handy bag holder and my ladle measures half cups to make it easy and mess free. This batch, I ended with five and a half quarts of chicken stock! Typically you can four to six quarts of rich stock will come from two ish chickens in an 8 quart stock pot. I also take Rachael Ray’s advice on freezing the bags flat for stacking and easy freezer organization!
I hope you have a happy and relaxing stock making day in your future!
Homemade Chicken Stock
- Scraps from 2-3 chickens (lots of bones needed, add skin and other meat scraps if available)
- 1 Tablespoons Salt, add a 2nd tablespoon of salt only if needed at end of simmer
- 1 teaspoon black peppercorns, whole
- veggies (can be soft and old but not smelly/soggy/spoiled)
- onion, cleaned and quartered
- garlic, halved
- carrots, washed, peeling is optional
- Thyme and Parsley, fresh bundled in twine (or dry wrapped in cheesecloth)
- lots of time, 8-10 hours recommended (6 is absolute minimum)
- Prep all saved ingredients, measure salt and pepper
- Add everything to the same big stock pot all at once, add water until stock pot is almost completely full and add lid
- Set heat at medium-low and simmer
- Continue simmering
- Simmer some more, and taste it. Add more water as needed.
- Just keep simmering, just keep simmering
- Taste and the second tablespoon of salt only if needed
- After 8-10 hours (6 is absolutely minimum) broth is ready to be strained! Remove all the big pieces then strain all the little stuff out.
- Use in a recipe as is, or put into freezer safe baggies and store flat in freezer
- In my opinion a slow cooker does not provide enough direct heat to get the flavor out of the bones regardless of cook time, even though ‘high’ is above the boiling point (my manual suggested high was 270). After 12 hours when I tried this I had barely a chicken scented water.
- Fresh Rosemary works very well in place of thyme also! (I do not typically use both at the same time because I think the rosemary usually overpowers the thyme)
- Slightly limp celery also makes a good addition to this use up recipe, but I didnt have any this go around.
- Really, most of your about-to-go-bad-but-are-still-OK veggies can be added to the stock pot, or you can even freeze lots of veggie scraps the same way as the chicken scraps! This is a very flexible and forgiving recipe!
- This is essentially a full fat broth once finished. I do not personally separate the fat due to my preferences, but if you need to separate the fat it can be done easily. Refrigerate the finished stock overnight after straining, skim the hardened layer of separated fat from the top, then bag it for storage.
Happy (Belated) National Ice Cream Day!
A few weeks ago I was hanging out with my husband and about 1,000 of our newest friends at the World Domination Summit in Portland, Oregon–an event hosted annually by Chris Guillebeau. WDS is essentially a huge and inspiring community week long meetup filled with personal development workshops, motivating mainstage speakers, and bunches of smaller more specific themed meetups consisting of many people with a number of shared passions for living and self defining what it means to live a remarkable life. One of these meetups was an ice cream walk to Portland’s Salt and Straw, so naturally we joined in on the yummy goodness!
The ice breaker intro at this particularly delicious meetup was to tell everyone your name and a favorite ice cream flavor. “Hi, my name is Lori, and I am an equal opportunity ice cream eater, but one of my favorite ice cream flavors is Graeter’s Cinnamon Ice Cream!” We then preceded to walk 1.4 miles from Directors Park to the NW 23’rd location of Salt and Straw (BTW they have awesomely creative flavors–Olive Oil and PB&J were my two favs!) During this pilgrimage for the sweet creamy dessert, I made a few new friends that were so kind and encouraging about my food blog ideas, that I have found a renewed vigor for sharing my home cooking creations! Thanks WDS’ers!
Now unfortunately, Graeter’s only manufactures and distributes my favorite Cinnamon as a seasonal flavor, available in Ohio from November to the start of January. The past few years, I have managed to find 5-6 pints in the January pint sale so I can stockpile and pace myself for a few months, but somehow I missed it this year! Thankfully my sister got me my very own ice cream maker this past Christmas! Now I make my own copycat of their deliciousness anytime I please!
My only previous ice cream making experience prior to Christmas 2017, was watching Anne Burrell teach the skill to ‘Worst Cooks in America.” Now I feel like a pro! Let me tell you, this is such an easy recipe that I believe anyone with an ice cream maker can make this! The hard parts are choosing what flavor to make and being patience with the cooling and freezing processes!
Lets be honest, the first step is ALWAYS laying out ingredients! I will never tell you otherwise!
Next, I like to pre measure what I can. I also prefer to sift the sugar and get out any lumps before we start. I always have lumpy sugar thanks to the muggy Ohio summers!
Pro tip on separating the eggs–save the egg white for tomorrow’s breakfast omlet!
The first cup of Half & Half gets added to the sugar/egg whisking party, then we add heat on low. Whisk away! The goal here is trifold: dissolve the sugar, heat the mixture until the eggs are safe to eat (165 degrees), and try to do it slowly and gently enough to avoid scrambled eggs!
Either your basic meat thermometer or a candy thermometer (what I used) should have range to help you determine the temperature. Again–165 is the goal temp.
Once at temp, the mixture needs to be removed from the heat and strained. Technically, straining the base is optional, but I would rather not see the tiny bits of cooked egg when eating. No matter how slowly I heat the egg mixture, I always have a few cooked bits.
Adding the Heavy Whipping Cream and the second cup of Half & Half will help cook the mixture. I like to stir between each cup to create a homogenous mixture. Now for the favoring! The vanilla adds a subtle flavor that makes it all the more delightful to eat! If you were to taste the mix now, you may think it is too sweet. Once the mixture is frozen, our taste buds will dull from the cold and will no longer perceive it to be overly sweet.
If you were to stop here (aka you have done everything except add the cinnamon) then you have a perfect vanilla ice cream! This can be cooled and frozen as is, or you can add vanilla beans then cool and freeze, or cool and freeze then add candy/cookies into the ice cream maker toward the end of the freezing process! You have the permission to be creative!
Cinnamon is a fav and what I set out to make today, so this is where we add it! As you mix the cinnamon in, you might think it is incorporating badly and something horribly disastrous has gone wrong. DON’T WORRY! The cinnamon will mix a little with the majority of it floating to the surface of the mixture. This is normal!
Before freezing, we want the ice cream mixture to chill in the fridge until it is really cold. I usually plan for at least two hours, but more time in the fridge is fine too! The purpose of this chill session is because I use an ice cream maker that requires a special frozen bowl. Any extra heat in the mixture has the potential to reduce the efficiency of the freezing process and prevent the appropriate texture to develop. I know some of the fancier ice cream machines have electric cooling features, so depending on your set up, this may be an optional step.
We are ready to freeze! Turn your ice cream maker on to start churning and THEN add the chilled ice cream mixture to your ice cream machine. I recommend this order because my machine starts the freezing process fast! You don’t want to accidentally break a plastic piece off by letting the mix freeze before you start churning.
Now, have patience. It will take about 30 minutes. Start checking the consistency around 20 minutes, and continue until it has thickened and has the mouthfeel of soft serve. Too much churning, and it can take on an oily butter like consistency.
Once the ice cream has churned, thickened, and approximately doubled in volume, it is ready to either be served as soft serve or ripen in the freezer. ‘Ripen’ is fancy ice cream talk for allowing the soft serve time to harden in the freezer to a scoop-able consistency.
Depending on what size/shape freezer safe ice cream container you use, it could take between 2-4 hours in the freezer. And more patience is required here (and this is also where I sneak a bite or three)
I know there are many recipes out on the web for basic ice cream bases. I have found that the number of eggs is the most common variable between many similar recipes, and I think that three egg yolks to three cups of dairy is the best combo for a smooth, rich, and creamy treat. Note: You can also use all three cups of dairy as Half & Half, or two cups of Heavy Whipping Cream (easily found as a pint at the store) with one cup of normal milk. As long as I have a good amount of milk ‘fat’ the mixture has turned out well for me! Too little milk fat or too few egg yolks can cause the ice cream to become overly hard when it ripens.
The total time from start to finish on this recipe is about 4.5-6.5 ish hours, but like 95% of that time is patience with the mixture hanging out in the fridge/freezer. The recipe, as presented here, should make about 1.5 quarts once churned. Traditional store bought containers would say this is 12 servings, but you do you. I hope you enjoy one of my favorite ice cream flavors!
Cinnamon Ice Cream
- 1 Cup Sugar
- 3 Egg Yolks
- 2 Cups Half & Half, divided
- 1 Cup Heavy Whipping Cream
- 1 Tablespoons Vanilla Extract
- 2-3 Tablespoons Cinnamon, to taste
- Electric Ice Cream Maker
- Freezer Ice Cream containers (optional if you want ‘soft serve’)
- Gather and pre measure all ingredients
- Add sugar, egg yolks, and 1st cup of Half & Half to a sauce pan, then wisk
- Heat on low, while continuously whisking, until sugar dissolves completely and mixture reaches 165 degrees
- Remove from heat and strain mixture into a mixing bowl to remove any clumps of cooked egg. I use a fine mesh strainer because I always seem to have some of the egg cook too fast.
- Add the Heavy Whipping Cream and the 2nd cup of Half & Half, then stir
- Add the Vanilla Extract and stir again
- Add the Cinnamon and whisk well (it will rise to the top of the mixture but will better incorporate later during the freezing process)
- Chill well in the fridge! I plan for about two hours minimum. (Note: this step may be optional if your ice cream maker has an electric cooling feature–I use the kind with a special frozen bowl)
- Set up ice cream maker and add creamy mixture according to manufacturer instructions
- It is ready as soft serve after 20-30 minutes churning, or place in freezer safe ice cream containers and allow to ripen in freezer for 2-4 hours minimum
Is there a more universally goes-with-everyuthing side dish than mashed potatoes? I don’t think so. This is why you can find mashed potatoes from your favorite diner all the way up to Michelin star restaurants. Mashed potatoes can be dressed up so easily with ingredients…
Basil is hands down my favorite herb on the planet. I can hardly begin to describe my foodie passion for the herbaceous richness it brings to some of my favorite foods or the lingering smell fresh cut basil leaves on my hands. Ask my husband, a good food made better with basil (or pesto) has rendered me speechless and or brought tears to my eyes on numerous occasions. Basil is that powerful! This seemingly simple leaf goes sooo well as an addition to a breakfast sandwich, as a pizza topping, and in a goes-with-everything-pesto!
In the summer I have several planters in use growing Genovese basil plants so I have months of fresh basil at my fingertips! Genovese basil (also known as sweet basil) grows large grass green leaves that have a touch of shine to them, and is easy to grow from seed or find at your local garden center. I prefer growing my own. Each fall, just as the weather starts turning cold, I make one big final harvest and bring everything inside to make a great big batch of pesto to freeze for the winter.
Unfortunately my frozen pesto doesn’t always last all winter! Once in a while I have to spoil myself during the winter months with some store bought basil. But lets be honest, that $2.99 goes incredibly far with this recipe!
Today I have for you my easy Basil Walnut Pesto. I call it easy because of ‘four.’
- Four ounces of fresh basil (the size container my store sells)
- Four quarter cups of parmesan cheese
- Four quarter cups of walnuts (I prefer walnuts to pine nuts for both texture and cost, almonds also work very well in this recipe)
- Four quarter cups of good EVOO
- Four cloves of garlic (I choose the really big cloves for a super garlicy pesto)
- Optional: Salt to taste
I realize that “Four quarter cups of…” is the same as one cup, but saying the ingredients this way makes it easy for me to remember! It is like a traditional pound cake has one pound each of the basic ingredients!
As always you want to begin by laying out and measuring all of your ingredients. This is important because you don’t want to start your recipe and find out you don’t have enough of something. Today as I was getting my walnuts out, I realized I had less than half of what I needed! Luckily I live less than a mile from the store!
First, wash and dry your basil, no matter if it is store bought or home grown. Lets just be sure regardless that you have a clean start with no extra ‘protein’ as some of the pests are the same color as the basil itself. I like to use my salad spinner ($4 Ikea impulse purchase) to make it a quick dry time. Next you can separate the stems from the leaves. Some stem is OK but too much will give you an oddly fibrous pesto that will likely diminish your enjoyment.
Peel and cut your garlic into similar sizes—I had halved and quartered my cloves.
The cut garlic and walnuts get to be added to the food processor first. I used the ‘pulse’ setting on my Ninja until the mixture resembled crumbs—15-20 pulses.
Next you can add your cheese and pulse until mixed—for me this was about 5 pulses. I typically have Parmesan cheese on hand, but Romano is just as good here! Today I have pre-shredded cheese, but you can easily shred your own too. Note: I cannot recommend using the non refrigerated powdery parmesan ‘cheese’…it is very much NOT cheese to me.
Back to Pesto! Your washed and dried basil is now ready to join the party! It may look like too much to fit, but once the leaves start getting processed, the volume will condense dramatically!
My food processor has a spot in the lid for me to pour liquids into the bowl while the processor ins in operation. To help the Basil Walnut mixture blend into the perfection known as pesto, you will want to start adding oil a few seconds before you start blending. I used the low, then medium setting for about 30 seconds total, then paused to scrape down the walls of the bowl, taste for flavor, and check the consistency. I then added a touch of salt and more olive oil and used the medium setting for about another 30 seconds.
Thats it! You now have an absolutely perfect batch of pesto! You can both enjoy your Basil Walnut pesto now and later! I like to keep some in silicone ice cream trays with lids in the freezer for easy storage. To use, simply pop one or two cubes out and thaw to enjoy! And pro tip: add a cube or two of frozen pesto to pasta in a lunch size container for a super easy lunch prep idea!
- Basil does not like the cold, so don’t put it in the refrigerator. Otherwise it will turn black and yucky.
- I find that pine nuts, while very traditional, are rather costly for my use. I have no specific issue with them, but I find the walnuts work great for my use and add just a bit of extra texture. No walnuts? Unsalted Almonds work great here too!
Five Ingredient Basil Walnut Pesto
Four ounces of fresh basil (the size container my store sells)
Four quarter cups of parmesan cheese
Four quarter cups of walnuts (I prefer walnuts to pine nuts for both texture and cost, almonds also work very well in this recipe)
Four quarter cups of good EVOO
Four cloves of garlic (I choose the really big cloves for a super garlicy pesto)
Optional: Salt to taste
- Gather and measure ingredients
- Wash then dry basil and remove leaves from stems
- Peel and cut garlic into similar sizes
- Add Garlic and walnuts to Food Processor, Pulse 15-20 times
- Add Cheese to Food Processor, Pulse just until combined
- Add Basil all at once
- Add oil, start combining on low then medium speed while still adding oil
- Scrape walls of bowl, taste for flavor, check consistency. If needed add a pinch of salt and more oil—blend at medium.
- Enjoy some now, and freeze some for the future!