Sunday, March 9, 2008

Creamy Rice or Barley Chicken Soup

Soups are always good for this time of year and I feel as if I have to get in all my soup recipes before the warmer season comes. This soup is one my dad made up (he is a gourmet chef) and it is delicious! We had it for dinner tonight.

2-3 boneless chicken breasts (cut up into 1/2 inch cubes)
2 T butter
1/2 cup each chopped onion, celery and carrots
1 qt. chicken stock (I like to use reduced fat and reduced sodium broth or my own homemade broth)
approximately 1/2 cup rice or barley (depends on how thick you want your soup)
1 pt. heavy cream or 1/2 and 1/2
chopped scallions to garnish on the top when serving

Melt butter in your soup pot. Put cubed chicken in and brown or sear for 4-5 mins. Then take it out and put aside. Put in your chopped onion, chopped celery and chopped carrots. Saute' until translucent. Add chicken stock and cook 10-15 minutes. Put the chicken back in. Put in rice or barley. Simmer 10-15 minutes. Add heavy cream. If need it thicker, you can add cornstarch mixed with a bit of water. When you are ready to serve, sprinkle some chopped scallions on top for presentation and taste.


D-I-Y Popcorn!

We try not to eat microwave popcorn anymore because of the partially hydrogenated everything...but sometimes (especially on a Sunday evening!) nothing sounds better than a big bowl of popcorn. So, guess what? You can make your own microwave popcorn. Here's how:

--Get a bunch of lunchbags--those brown kind like the cool kids had when I was in middle school
--dump a little bit of popcorn into a bag--I probably put in 1/8 cup, and it was a little bit too much.
--bend the end over and tape it good with scotch tape
--microwave it on high for 3 minutes, listening until the pops lessen.

That's it! It worked, and now we'll experiment with seasonings and so on. It's hardly even a recipe, but I thought I'd pass it along since we're excited to have this super-cheap, sorta healthy (hey, I'll dump *real* melted butter on it!) snack.


Saturday, March 8, 2008

Homemade Ginger Ale

The kids and I have had fun making a few batches of ginger ale. It is very easy and in my opinion very good but if you think of it in comparison to other commercial ginger ales it is not going to tasste the same. It is a lot easier to make then root beer. Here is what you need:

1) Empty clean 2 ltr plastic bottle with cap
We use our left over 2 liter bottles from club soda for bottling our ginger ale. Wash them out and they are ready to go. It is not recommended to use glass because it is much harder to judge the fermentation. Exploding glass bottles are dangerous. You also need a funnel and a grater with fine teeth.

2) Ingredients for each 2 ltr bottle include:
-sugar 1 cup
-freshly ground ginger 1.5 to 2 tablespoons
-1/4 tsp of yeast
- cold fresh pure water
-optional juice of 1 lemon

3) Use the funnel and pour 1 cup of sugar into the bottle. Add 1/4 tspn of yeast. Cap and shake.

4) Use the funnel and add your ground ginger. If you add the lemon then you should add this to the ginger when you put it in the funnel.

5) Pour water into the funnel and the ginger will wash down the funnel into the bottle. It it gets stuck use a plunger (not from the bathroom it would be too big). I used a skewer to get the ginger moving. Add about half a bottles worth of water then cap and shake to mix the sugar yeast with the water. Continue to add cold fresh water until 1 inch from the top of the bottle.

6) Cap the bottle and let sit for as long as you dare. For the last batch I went about 10 hours or so but you can probably go 48 hours before it explodes. You can experiment. You can easily judge by squeezing the bottle to see hard hard it gets.

5) Open slowly and easily unless you like to clean up a mess. I like to strain off the major ginger sludge with a strainer and pour it back in the bottle. If you think it needs more fizz then you can let it sit out for 8 hrs and it will fizz back up. Put in the refrigerate and enjoy your homemade ginger ale.

Warning: this can contain some alcohol somewhere in the range of 0.4%.

You can experiment with the amount of sugar, ginger, lemon and also how long to ferment it. We haven't tried it yet but it would be fun to see how long it takes to explode the bottle.