Easy Chicken Soup

chicken ccOne thing that I don’t have on my little homestead is a chicken coop full of hens and chicks.  We are in an agrarian area, but covenants that came with our property specify no large livestock.  We can have horses, but no cows, pigs, etc.  However, a neighbor once cleared land with goats and nobody batted an eye (so I am assuming that goats aren’t considered large livestock) and a couple of others down the road raise chickens, so I am pretty sure that would be okay here.

But, I have a chicken hating father, who can’t abide the idea of having hens running around.  Even when I have offered to keep them in a fenced enclosure or build a “chicken tractor” to get my eggs, he hasn’t softened one bit. Sigh.

I truly enjoy pastured eggs.  I really do.  And, as much as I would enjoy having my own source of healthy eggs, I don’t want to cause too much consternation for my family members.  So, at least for now, poultry is out of the question.

The next best thing to having my own flock of hens, is a good ol’ bowl of homemade chicken soup!  I bet you wondered what my desire for gateway livestock would have to do with soup.  For one thing, soup is one of the best things to do with a hen that is past her prime laying years.  No, I am not heartless, but I just can’t see having chickens as pets.  I know, I know.  Not everybody is willing to go there and that is okay, too.

But, even without homegrown hens, I can make a mean pot of homemade chicken soup that celebrates the humble chicken.  It’s that good.  And, you can do it, too!

Another Hatchett Job, turkey bone broth, frugal lifeThe secret to a superior chicken soup is really all in the broth.  If you can avoid it, try not to use chicken stock.  Stock is made from the meat and isn’t cooked very long.  Stock will be straw colored and not nearly as rich and tasty as a good bone broth.  Broth is made by cooking bones and some meat with or without veggies and salt.  I always put onion and garlic in mine (you can even put the skins in as it will all be filtered out later), but there is no rule that says you have to.  If I have carrots, a celery heart (or the end pieces that have leaves on them), a piece of cauliflower that has seen better days, broccoli stems, onion peels, etc. then I will throw ’em in.  Basically, it’s a good way to take iffy looking produce and use it rather than throw it out.  I would throw in just about anything except collard (with or without stems) because the only catch is to keep delicate leafy things like herbs out until the last 30 minutes or so, so they don’t get cooked to death!  Oh, and I usually throw about 5 whole peppercorns in at the beginning, too.  To learn more about preparing broths, click here.

I am nuts enough about homemade broths that I will make up large batches and can pints and quarts of the stuff to use later.   It’s totally worth it!

crockpot line art ccBut, back to the soup.  In my large crockpot (I think it is a 6 quart model), I will chop up a fresh onion, add 4-5 cloves of minced garlic (we love garlic, if you don’t then cut it in half), a stem or two of finely chopped celery, and 2-3 peeled carrots cut into small rounds.  I toss in a couple of cups or so of chopped or shredded chicken (can be cooked or uncooked), a Tablespoon of salt, a few grinds of fresh, black pepper, and 2-3 quarts of homemade turkey or chicken bone broth.  If I add 2 quarts of broth, I will add 1 quart of water and two bullion cubes or the equivalent in granules.  You can always add more water or broth if you want a fuller crock of soup, just remember to add 2 bullion cubes for every quart of water you add.

Turn crockpot on high and let it cook for an hour or so and then switch it to low and let it simmer for at least 4 hours.  Add 1 cup of rice for the last hour of cooking time.  Taste and adjust seasonings if you like.  Then serve with a salad and freshly baked rolls.  It’s a delicious meal and perfect for a chilly, winter’s day!

I hope you enjoy this easy recipe for Chicken Soup.  Once you have broth canned and ready to go at a moment’s notice, it’s quite simple to get a delicious dinner started!

What’s your favorite soup recipe?  Share it in the comments below.

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

 

 

 

Healthy Turkey Bone Broth

Another Hatchett Job, turkey bone broth, frugal lifeThere are few things in life that are as soothing and wonderful as a warm mug of soup on a cold, winter’s day.  Not to mention if you are feeling a bit under the weather, chicken or turkey soup can be the difference between fed and truly nourished.

While chicken soup has been called Jewish Penicillin for decades, making it with homemade bone broth increases the minerals that are available for absorption and other healthy compounds in your soup.  It’s a very inexpensive thing to do if you like to feel a little self-reliant, a little frugal, and like tastier foods.

Another Hatchett Job, turkey bone broth in jars, canning, frugal life
The longer and slower you cook your broth, the darker and richer it becomes.

Just beware that to make bone broth, you must cook it low and slow.  Increasing the heat won’t make it happen any faster.  Be patient with it.

Here is my original article on making bone broth.

Do you make homemade broths?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Crockpot to the Rescue!

crockpot line art ccSome days are just the pits.  Half of your family members have chest colds; nobody wants to cook.  And, you have two broken feet to boot.

So what’s a gal to do?  Limp in to the crockpot and find a way to produce dinner for her hungry crowd before they get hangry!

Everything feels tougher and more time consuming when you are walking on sore tootsies.  Even with orthopedic boots, carbon shank inserts, and insoles to add needed support.  So, quick and uncomplicated top the priority list for this time in my life.

We had some chicken that had been cooked for a previous meal and frozen.  It was a chicken ccwonderful start.  I added one frozen breast from a bag in the freezer and thawed it just enough to be able to run a knife through them.  I diced them fine and added to the crockpot along with 1 medium yellow onion, 5 cloves of garlic (minced), two carrots cut into thin rounds, 3 quarts of chicken bone broth, 2 bullion cubes and 1 1/2 Tablespoons of salt.  I let it cook on high for about 4 hours before stirring and adding about 3/4 cups of uncooked orzo to the mix.  Normally, I would have added celery and used brown rice (wild rice, too, if I have some), but it was more important to use what we had on hand.  Any noodles would have worked fine also.

While the soup finished and the pasta rehydrated, I set about making fresh rolls using the Kitchenaid Sixty Minute Rolls recipe that I found a couple of years ago on The Thrifty Couple Blog.  I doubled the salt in the recipe this time, but still find that it could have used a bit more for my taste.

This recipe really is quick and easy.  It would have been quicker had I been able to move about a tad easier.  To compensate, I didn’t divide the dough into rolls and just baked it in a single piece, slicing into squares when done.  I sat and read blog posts while everything had a final rise and again when baking in the oven.

All in all, the rolls took a bit more like 75 minutes, but considering I usually can pull it off in an hour, it was still really good.  I come back to this recipe again and again as I can make rolls in less time than thawing out store bought frozen dough.  Mine tastes better and I have control of what goes into them.  Besides, it made a humble soup from what we had on hand taste even better and seem like a luxury, not a desperate attempt to stay off my feet.

And that makes it all worthwhile!

What is YOUR go-to meal when your family is ill?

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

The Chicken Zone….

Disclaimer:  I thought I would have this posted about two weeks ago.  Unfortunately, life took over and, alas, I did not.

Another Hatchett Job, review of Zaycon chicken, frugal life, thrifty, make ahead meals
http://www.zayconfoods.com

As I teased earlier this week on Facebook, yesterday, I drove over to a neighboring town to receive an order of 120 pounds of very cold, bagged, chicken breasts.  People, that is A LOT of chicken!  Three waxed, cardboard cartons worth, sitting on plastic in the back seat, to be exact.

So, why on Earth did I have 12o pounds of said chicken pieces in the car with me?  Because, according to Zaycon Foods, they are, “100 % natural chicken with no added hormones, additives or artificial ingredients.”  It was also only $1.99 a pound and that is a really good deal for my area.  I can occasionally get chicken breasts at this price, but it is the cheapo, frozen, injected with salt water stuff in the bags at a big box store.  Certainly not hormone and additive free.

Plus, I love seeing my shelves and freezer full of good, healthy meals ready to be eaten!  Real food is a good thing.

I first learned about Zaycon and their wonderful chicken from the blog One Hundred Dollars a Month.  I used her referral code to sign in and set up a free account.  I read her articles on how she dealt with a huge box of chicken breasts when she got them home.  And, then, I, quite tentatively, ordered a 40 pound case of chicken.

Another Hatchett Job, review of Zaycon chicken, frugal life, freezer cooking, crock pot cooking, making meals ahead
http://www.zayconfoods.com

Wow!  Was I even impressed!  Each breast is about twice the size of the anemic looking ones we got at the local grocers, so we promptly cut them in half and put them in labelled ziplock bags with 6 portions (worked out to 3 whole breasts) in each bag and froze them.  Hubby cut the breasts in half and pulled off a few remnants of skin, but the chicken was clean and nice.  I think we got 19 meals worth frozen from that original case (plus the meal we ate that night) that we ate over the next few months.  We enjoyed it grilled, fried, baked, in soups, casseroles, you name it.

The price was right and it was better quality than we could get locally.

Problem was, we ran out before they ran their next sale in our area.  So, this time, we were fortunate enough to have been able to put back some money in anticipation of the sale that was this week, so we decided to order…more than one case.  We finally decided that two cases would, in all likelihood allow us to make it to the next planned sale in our area.  Plus, I like to pressure can foods to use later, so a case to can up would be handy.  Ultimately, we purchased 3 cases, for an unprecedented (to our family, anyway) 120 pounds of meat to all be picked up on a single day.

In preparation, hubby and I asked the kids what their favorite chicken meals were, looked up a few new ones that looked worth trying, and pulled out some tried and true recipes.  As we have gotten into a bit of a cooking rut of repeating meals lately, I decided that instead of plain chicken in bags, we would try and make as many as possible into “freezer meals” or packets with everything needed to get to cooking a particular dish.

At this point, we ate one delicious meal of a balsamic chicken that my Mom made last night and put up 29 other meals into the freezer.  I won’t post recipes here, because until we try them all, I don’t want to accidentally recommend something that doesn’t work out quite as planned.  We also poached 15 breasts and put them into the fridge to shred tonight when they weren’t boiling hot.  We also gleaned off 6 quarts of chicken stock to use in soups later.  That looks like about 35 meals total (with a generous serving of chicken per person) for 6 large apetites out of 120 pounds of chicken.

We started off wondering if we would have enough recipes for variety.  We ended up with no more than 2 of any one recipe, a few singles, and none left over for canning.  You could have knocked me over with a feather to not have any left to can up!

For the record, I didn’t take enough pictures of the process this time.  And not everything packet is a complete meal, but we did manage the following:

1 packet of chunks for chicken fried rice

2 packets of chunks for chicken teriyaki

1 packet of chunks for chicken korma

Shredded chicken for

Taco meals

Enchiladas with green sauce

Tamale pie

2  Baked chicken parmigiana

Serving size pieces packaged for

Fried chicken

BBQ chicken sandwiches

Buffalo chicken sandwiches

Lemon Pepper chicken salads

2 Southwest Chicken Dinner ( 1 pot meal)

Chicken Fajita wraps

Quick Chicken Posole

Greek Chicken in Yogurt marinade

Chicken Marengo (1 pot meal)

Chicken Stuffed Poblano Peppers

Italian Chicken in marinade.

After we verify that everything turned out great for this freezer meal, chicken edition, we will share recipes either here or in an inexpensive e-book.  Most are available online to try if you really can’t wait.

I encourage everyone to try Zaycon Foods.  Here is my referral code.  I will receive exactly $1 off of a future order if you set up an account and make your first purchase.  At that point, you will get your own referral code to use to share with others.  If you use my code, thank you.  If not, I still really want you to try some of this great chicken!  It’s easier on the budget than you think and it ‘s good quality.

Edited to add:  we have been using these meals for about two weeks now and they have all been fantastic!  It’s been nice not to think about dinner other than to thaw it in advance and toss it in the crockpot!

Have you ever put up large quantities of meats?  What are YOUR tips?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Homemade Bone Broth

Another Hatchett Job, photo by Jan Hatchett, bone broth, nutrition, canning
Quart jars cooling after coming out of the pressure canner.

One of the familiar aftermaths of all of the Thanksgiving and Christmas celebrations for our family is pulling at least one (often more than one) stripped turkey carcass out of the freezer to start the process of making good, homemade bone broth.  Nutritious and tasty, this broth is canned and used like chicken stock for a good portion of the year (we do make chicken stock also, but a good turkey carcass makes so much at one time!).

It’s a great thing to do on a dreary, cold Winter’s day.  I can work on other projects while the broth simmers away, filling the house with warm, inviting scents.

To learn more about making your own bone broths, click here.

What is your favorite dish to make with bone broth?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Almost Pinterest Pasta, Take Two

Another Hatchett Job, creative commons, pasta, bow ties, recipesOkay, here’s where the story got interesting.  At the store, I forgot all about the Rotel Tomatoes and thought I remembered a creamy sauce.  Plus, I thought I would sneak in a vegetable to this one pot wonder of a meal.  I told hubby what I was making for dinner that night and came home and got to fixing….

Imagine hubby’s surprise when the meal he was anticipating wasn’t the actual meal on the table at all.  Imagine my surprise when the meal that I prepared wasn’t at all the meal that I thought I was preparing.   We had a good laugh.  I resolved to start writing things down. But, we tried it and the whole family really liked it.  Hence, it is ALMOST the Pinterest Pasta that I had intended.

I recently took this to a family game night and it went over terribly well.  Several asked for the recipe, so I figured in an effort of full disclosure, I would post both recipes because we enjoy them both so very much.  This is my version….

Almost Pinterest Pasta

1 quart chicken broth

1 pound chicken meat, shredded or chunked

1 pound pasta (any will do, we use penne most of the time, but I love the bowties for the cute factor.  Lately, I have been eating whole wheat, but the hubby and kids aren’t convinced yet)

One package of frozen leaf spinach (preferably not chopped)

1 cup of heavy cream

1-2 cups mozzarella cheese

Gluten Free option:  use only Gluten Free pasta of any type and grate your own cheese to avoid any flour used to dust pre-shredded cheese).Another Hatchett Job, creative commons, pasta, spaghetti, recipes

Other options:  this is a very forgiving recipe.  Any meat can be used.  If the meat needs to be browned, use 1 Tablespoon Olive Oil in pot to brown and add ingredients to it per the instructions.  Any veggie that is good in a casserole could be good in this.  Use what you have on hand.  Think leftovers.  We will be using this on Thanksgiving weekend to give left over turkey a new lease on life. You can substitute some evaporated milk, half and half, fat free half and half or whatever you like to make the cheese sauce.  It just needs to be thicker than milk.  I might even try mixing some dry milk powder with milk to thicken it a bit.  The sky is the limit with this one!

Add chicken broth to large pan with lid (we use a 5 quart dutch oven).  Add chicken meat and bring to a boil.

Add pasta and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add frozen spinach and return to boil for about 5 more minutes or until pasta is just done.

Remove from heat and add cream and cheese.  Mix to combine and melt cheese.

Serve and enjoy.

Please share in the comments if you have tried this recipe or a variation and let us know how it turned out!

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett

Almost Pinterest Pasta

Another Hatchett Job, creative commons, pasta, noodles, recipesAnother recipe that I recently took to a gathering that friends wanted the recipe for.  In order to explain that recipe, I have to tell you about the dish that I was trying to make in the first place.

This recipe came from one of the Assistant Scout Leaders in our son’s Boy Scout Troop.  They made it on a campout and it was a hit with all of the kids and adults in attendance.  I really, really wanted to try this recipe.

Hubby being a great cook, liked the dish and told me the recipe, but I just couldn’t wait for him to make it for me.  So, off I went (without a list) to the store to get the ingredients that I remembered.  Did I mention that I didn’t write any of this down….

Here is the recipe that hubby recounted to me from the Scout trip.  It originated off of Pinterest, but I don’t have the original pin or post.  So, I can’t give credit.  If anyone knows where this originally came from, I will gladly update this information.

Pinterest Pasta

1 quart chicken broth

1 pound Penne pasta

1 pound package of sausage (any would be fine, but we like Turkey Polska Kielbasa) chopped into small pieces

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1 12 ounce can of Rotel Tomatoes

1-2 cups of mozzarella cheese (to taste)

 

Gluten Free option:  to make this dish gluten free, use any Gluten Free pasta in the same amount and grate your own mozzarella cheese to avoid any flour used to dust pre-grated cheese).

 

In a large pan with a lid (we use a ceramic over cast iron dutch oven in 5 quart size), heat olive oil.

Brown sausage.  Keep it moving in the pan.

When sausage is browned a bit, add chicken broth and bring to a boil.

Add pasta and stir.  Cover for 10 minutes or so.  When the pasta is cooked to al dente, add Rotel Tomatoes.

When Rotel Tomatoes have warmed thoroughly, add cheese and remove from heat.  Stir to combine and melt cheese.

Serve and enjoy!  This will feed a family of hearty eaters easily.  Plus, it is easily doubled or tripled to serve large groups with only one pan to clean up.  We have used a large stock pot before to feed a crowd of 15-20.

Needless to say, my version wasn’t quite the same since I was trying to use my memory instead of being sensible and having a list.  My version will follow later this week.

If you try this dish, won’t you comment below and tell us how it turned out?

Till next time,

Another Hatchett Job blog, signature, Jan Hatchett