Friday, November 30, 2012

How To: Perfectly Shred Chicken w/ a Stand Mixer

I saw this little "how-to" on Pinterest a few months ago, and needless to say I was skeptical.  Throw the cooked chicken breasts into the Kitchen-aid, lock and load, turn it on, and in minutes you have perfectly shredded chicken? Say whaaaa?? No way.

Well call me crazy, but this actually works! So long to shredding chicken with two forks until you get so tired of it you give up and just chop the rest. Been there, done that. This is the wave of the future...and the answer to significantly cutting my freezer casserole making time. 

The "Steps":
1.  Cook multiple chicken breasts until fully cooked.  I tend to buy a ton of chicken breasts when they go on sale, and cook them in the crock pot.  That way they are ready to shred when I get home from work, and I have homemade chicken broth that I can use as well!
2.  While the chicken is still very warm, place the breasts in your Kitchen-aid mixer and put on the paddle attachment.  Lock the mixer in place (otherwise it can get a little rocky) and turn on low.  It won't look like it is doing much at first, but give it a minute.  It will shred your chicken perfectly.  This shredded chicken can be frozen in cup-increments for easy additions to casseroles, soups, quesadillas, chicken salad, etc.

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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Insta-Catch-Up...Fall Edition

To say that life has been busy lately would be an understatement.  Ever since I've gone back to work it has been a non-stop ride on the crazy train, and I can't get off.  I'm trying to compile new recipes for you guys, but until then, here is a little instagram collage of the last few months!

To say I'm uhhbb-sessed with him is an understatement. Can you blame me??
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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Hearty Ham & Potato Soup + Crispy Bread Bowls

I was feeling a little under the weather a few weeks ago.  As in, standing outside wearing next to nothing, and getting pounded by cold wind, rain, and hail.  Seriously where does a phrase like "under the weather" even come from?? It started out as a runny nose, you know the typical fall Missouri allergy greeting, and then slowly turned into stuffy nose, constant sneezing, coughing, and no voice.  By the middle of the week I'd had it! Not to mention the fact that I can't take any meds, and I'm sleep deprived as it is.  I wanted soup for dinner, but I really wasn't feeling chicken noodle soup.  I wanted something hearty...annnndddd we had some spare potatoes lying around. 

I've been wanting to make homemade bread bowls for a long time, and my friend Ang told me she had a recipe at home for easy refrigerated dough bread bowls (she's my source anytime I need a new recipe!)  I'm not really sure where she got this one so I can't credit it, but it was super easy, and the perfect addition to any soup! It really took it over the top...

So I put on my sweatpants, laid the baby down to play on his mat, and enjoyed this warm intro to fall.

Start by bringing the potatoes, ham, and water to a boil, then cook until the potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  I like to cook them on the lesser side of that time because they will continue to cook in the soup.

Pop open your can of store bought pizza crust.  Scare the bejeezus out of yourself.  I do it everytime..never fails.

Cut the dough in half, leaving it in tact.  Stand the dough up cut-side-down on a baking sheet.  Then smush it down (yeah we get technical around here)...

Drizzle olive oil over the dough rounds and sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Go for the cheap grated stuff...we've already gone the easy route with the store-bought pizza crust, so we may as well keep it classy.  Now pop those babies into the oven and let the magic happen.  Just be careful not to let them burn.  Mine look a little brown because of the whole grain variety, but just be careful!

Now start sauteing your onions in the butter.  Cook them until they are translucent (fancy for almost see-through) and sprinkle the flour in.  Stir in the flour and cook it for a few minutes to get rid of the chalky taste.  The mixture should resemble wet sand.  Stir in the milk and cook slowly so you can get all the lumps out.  Then add the potatoes, ham, water/chicken boullion mixture to the pot.  Stir and make sure it is heated through and you're good to go!

Now watch closely...because this next part goes fast...Get your bread bowl.

Cut the top off. Scoop out the guts (being careful not to poke a hole in the sides!)

Add soup. Curl up. Stuff yourself. Thank me tomorrow.

Hearty Ham & Potato Soup
makes 8 servings

4 cups potatoes, peeled and diced
1/3 cup finely chopped onion
3/4 cup diced cooked ham
3-1/2 cups water
2 Tbsp chicken bouillon powder
salt to taste
1 tsp ground pepper
5 Tbsp butter
5 Tbsp all-purpose flour
2 cups milk

1.  Combine the potatoes, ham, and water in a stockpot.  Bring to a boil, then cook over medium heat until potatoes are tender, about 10-15 minutes.  Stir in the chicken bouillon, salt, and pepper.

2.  In a dutch oven, melt butter over medium heat.  Saute onions until translucent.  Sprinkle in flour and whisk until consistency resembles wet sand.  Let the flour/butter/onion mixture cook for a few minutes.  Slowly whisk in milk as not to allow lumps to form until all of the milk has been added.  Continue stirring over medium low heat until thick, about 5 minutes.

3.  Slowly stir the potatos, ham and water into the white sauce and cook soup until heated through.  Serve immediately.

Adapted from All Recipes

Crispy Bread Bowls
makes 4 bread bowls

2 packages (13.8 oz) refrigerated pizza crust
4 tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Cup Parmesan cheese (optional), divided

1.  Preheat oven to 400°.  Remove dough from packages.  Cut each in half to form four equal portions.  Place dough cut-side down on stoneware pan.  Press lightly to form 4-1/2 inch rounds.

2.  Brush each round with 1 teaspoon of olive oil; sprinkle with cheese if you like.  Bake 21-23 minutes or until deep golden brown.

3.  To serve, slice off the top of each bread round; carefully remove the center to form a bowl.  Place on plates; ladle soup into bowls.
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